Anaheim, CA (SportsNetwork.com) - Jonathan Toews set the example early and the battle-tested Blackhawks followed their captain in a dominant performance to reach the Stanley Cup Finals for the third time in six seasons.
Toews scored two first-period goals to lift Chicago to a 5-3 victory over the Anaheim Ducks in Game 7 of the Western Conference finals on Saturday from Honda Center.
Toews became the first player in NHL history to have multi-goal efforts in Games 5 and 7 on the road in a single playoff series.
"He's an amazing hockey player," Chicago head coach Joel Quenneville said of Toews. "The bigger the stage, the bigger the setup, he just seems to excel in big moments, big stages. Shows he's as good a leader as there is in any sport."
Brandon Saad, Marian Hossa and Brent Seabrook each lit the lamp and Patrick Kane supplied three assists for the Blackhawks, who won their first Game 7 on the road since April 15, 1965 against Detroit.
Corey Crawford made 35 saves in his 70th career playoff game and improved to 11-3 when his team faces elimination.
Ryan Kesler, Corey Perry and Matt Beleskey each scored, while Frederik Andersen allowed all five goals on 26 shots for the Ducks.
Anaheim was eliminated on home ice in a Game 7 for the third straight season, losing to the Red Wings during the first round in 2013 and to the Kings in last season's Western Conference semifinals.
"It's going to hurt for a while," Ducks head coach Bruce Boudreau said. "We truly believed we were a different team and we had a really good chance of winning five more games. It didn't get done. We'll have to live with that for the summer."
The Blackhawks will travel to Tampa Bay for Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals on Wednesday.
Toews started the scoring for Chicago just 2:23 into the game. Kane led the rush up the right-wing boards and shuffled a pass back to Niklas Hjalmarsson, who skated through the slot and fired a shot on net. Crawford made the initial stop, but Toews was present in front to wrist home the rebound.
The captain struck again with 8:05 left in the opening frame after Jakob Silfverberg went off for hooking the speedy Saad. Toews accepted a pass from Brad Richards, moved to the top of the right circle and wristed a wrister over Andersen's glove and into the top right corner of the net for a 2-0 lead.
"Tonight we came out flying as a team," said Toews. "We had good contributions offensively across the board but I'd say it was our best game of the series, continuing with that pressure knowing that they were going to respond as well."
Saad gave the Blackhawks a 3-0 lead just 1:18 into the middle stanza. He chipped in the puck to set up the Blackhawks attack, then, after Johnny Oduya won a battle along the boards, Kane gathered the puck at the left circle and batted a pass over to Saad, who buried the puck into a wide-open net.
Kane looked to add to the lead moments later on a partial breakaway, but Andersen absorbed the shot. Crawford was sharp on the other end, stopping a Patrick Maroon redirection in front and Silfverberg's stuff attempt from the side of the net.
Chicago continued to add to its lead with 6:15 left in the second. Richards gathered a turnover in the neutral zone and crashed the net off a 2-on-1. Andersen was unable to hold onto the rebound as the puck caromed off Hossa's skate and over the goal line.
The goal was quickly reviewed and ruled that there was no distinct kicking motion, making it a 4-0 game.
While skating 4-on-4, Kesler beat Crawford with a well-placed wrister over his right shoulder from a sharp angle to put the Ducks on the board with 1:09 to play before the second intermission.
Anaheim didn't seem to come to life until the midway point of the final period. Maroon took a pass from Ryan Getzlaf, stickhandled around a defender and sent the puck through the crease to Perry, who bent to one knee and fired a shot past a stationary Crawford for a 4-2 game with 8:24 to play.
Less than two minutes later, Seabrook restored Chicago's four-goal lead and effectively wrapped up the victory with a heavy slapper that ticked off the left post during a power play.
The Ducks pulled Andersen with 3:15 to play and Beleskey scored on a deflection in front for a power-play goal with 42 seconds left.
Chicago became the third team in the last 24 years to reach the Stanley Cup Finals three times in six seasons, joining the Red Wings who did so in 1995/97/98 and 1997/98/02 and the Devils in 2000/01/03 ... The team that scores first in Game 7s improved to 119-42 in NHL history, including 4-1 this season ... Richards improved to 8-0 in Game 7 ... Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith finished with two assists to set a new career high in the postseason with 18 points, surpassing his previous best of 17 set in 2010 ... Chicago also upped its record to 32-0-0 when leading after 40 minutes of play, including both the regular season and playoffs ... Perry tied the Ducks' franchise record with 10 goals in a postseason. The record was formerly set by Andy McDonald in 2007 ... Boudreau fell to 1-6 in Game 7s ... Andersen allowed at least four goals in his final four games.