(Reuters) - The Chicago Blackhawks will play in the Stanley Cup Finals for the third time in six seasons after beating the Anaheim Ducks 5-3 in Game Seven of the Western Conference championship series on Saturday.
Chicago captain Jonathan Toews scored two early goals and the Blackhawks stunned Anaheim by surging to a 4-0 lead in the second period before the Ducks got on the scoreboard.
With the road victory in southern California, the Blackhawks won the series 4-3 and will meet the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Finals, which start on Wednesday.
It is the third season in a row that Anaheim lost Game Seven of a playoff series at home.
The Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup in 2010 and 2013 and have built up some serious momentum after winning the final two games against Anaheim.
Toews, who has scored five goals in his past four games, was outstanding on Saturday but deflected praise, instead paying tribute to coach Joel Quenneville for coming up with a game plan that took Anaheim out of their rhythm.
“The last couple of games, Joel did a great job analyzing the situation and how we can try and take their top players off their game,” Toews told NBC.
“They were having a heck of a series. We just went out and tried to make it difficult on that line. They wanted to play offense and for the most part we were pretty smart defensively against them.”
Toews’ team mate, right winger Patrick Kane, had no problem praising his captain.
“It’s pretty remarkable how he shows up in these games and seems to come through time after time,” Kane said.
Defenseman Brent Seabrook, who scored Chicago’s final goal, was already thinking ahead to the series against Tampa Bay.
“There’s nothing like playing in the Stanley Cup Finals. We’ve both that belief in our team that when we need to we can step up and play well.
“We know (the Lightning have) got a great young team with a lot of speed and they can put the puck in the net, so it’s going to be a tough series.”
The result was a bitter pill for the Ducks, who gave up a goal after barely two minutes.
Defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson fired a shot that rebounded off Anaheim goalie Frederik Andersen, and Toews pounced to score.
The team scoring first had won the first six games of the series, and Game Seven proved no different.
"We didn't execute at a high enough level to beat that team," said Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf, who was on the ice for three of Chicago's goals. He did not score a goal in the final two games and had only one assist.
Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina; Editing by Peter Rutherford