Final Score: Ducks 5, Blackhawks 4 (OT)
First Period Recap:
The game started, just about as close to perfect as possible for the Ducks. The first great chance they had was started by Nate Thompson denying Bryan Bickell a wrap around in front of Frederik Andersen and Jiri Sekac carrying from the D zone hash marks to the O zone hash marks, out muscling Kyle Cumiskey, walking to the middle and feeding Francois Beauchemin, but Beauch's shot missed high and wide. On the next shift the Hawks did their best Ducks impression, failing to clear the zone three times with full possession before relieving the pressure.
The Ducks scored on only their second shot on goal of the game. Andrew Cogliano took a hit in the corner from Kimo Timmonen, but Thompson picked up the loose puck and zipped a pass diagonally across the entire zone to Cam Fowler at the left point. Cam skated it to the top of the circles and sent a perfect wrist shot through traffic, off the post and in behind Corey Crawford. 1-0 Ducks.
They scored on their third shot as well. Ryan Kesler hit Cumiskey in the corner as he attempted to clear it up the boards, but Jakob Silfverberg held the puck in and threw it in the general direction of the net. The puck was on edge so it fluttered toward the net where Kesler deflected it back the other way and it bounced off the ice, catching Crawford moving across the crease and extending the lead t two only 32 seconds after the first goal. 2-0 Ducks. And that forced Joel Quenneville to burn his timeout 5:42 into the first period.
Two minutes later, Fowler caught the Hawks on a bad change with a stretch pass to Cakes at the blueline for a partial breakaway, but he could only get a backhand shot away that Crawford had no trouble with. Cakes also made contact with Crawford after the shot, and the goalie went down like a ton of bricks, no call either way.
Midway through the period, the Ducks went on the first power play of the game, courtesy of Brent Seabrook cross checking Cakes. The Ducks' PP couldn't break through, but looked very good, with lots of player movement all around the zone. Their best chance was a pretty passing play, started by Corey Perry trying to find Patrick Maroon in front, from behind the net with a between the legs pass. The puck squirted out to Ryan Getzlaf between the tops of the circles and instead of stepping into it, he made a no look pass to Fowler, who zipped it back across the ice to Sami Vatanen. If Sami could have one timed it, he would have had half a net to shoot at, but he had to settle it down and Crawford got there in time to make a huge glove save.
Next was an odd man rush (almost a 3-on-1, depending on how you want to count the Chicago backcheckers). Silfverberg chipped it out of the zone to Tomas Fleischmann, they were joined by Kesler in the middle of the ice, Fleischmann found Kesler with a backhand pass and he was all all one in on Crawford, more or less, thanks to Johnny Oduya pressuring Fleischmann as he carried in up the wall. Kesler shot it from the hash mark but Crawford just got the crook of his elbow on the shot and covered. Off the ensuing faceoff, Sami Vatanen HAMMERED a one time slap shot through traffic and in. 3-0 Ducks. By the way, At this point the shots were 10-0 Ducks.
Chicago did get a shot on goal with just over three minutes left in the period. They ended up with three, but the first one was a great opportunity by Jonathan Toews. Hampus Lindholm turned the puck over to Patrick Kane just to the left of Andersen. Beauch dove in to break up the play, but the puck landed on Toews' tape in the slot, his shot was high up on Andersen's chest protector and off to the side. I don't think I'll officially dub it the best period of the Ducks' playoffs so far, because the third of Game 5 vs. Calgary was outstanding, but I'll go out on a limb and say it was probably Chicago's worst.
Second Period Recap:
Everyone and their mother knew that Chicago wasn't going to take that kind of period lying down, and they didn't. Only 1:11 into the middle frame, Teuvo Teravainen drew the Blackhawks within one on their first shot of the period. Patrick Sharp knocked a Perry pass at the Chicago blueline into the neutral zone, where Antoine Vermette tipped it ahead for Teravainen. Teuvo carried into the zone, cut to the middle used Clayton Stoner as a screen and his shot got through Andersen's five hole. 3-1 Ducks.
Chicago was looking for stretch passes left and right, but either couldn't connect or couldn't make much out of them early in the period, though they did have more shots on goal in the first five minutes of the second (4) than in the entire first period. Kyle Palmieri nearly had a breakaway, tipping the puck around a defenseman at center ice, but he tipped it too far into the zone and Crawford came out to play it before Palms could catch up.
Beauch had a rough shift, getting turned inside out by Toews and getting away with a slash as he flew past that affected Toews' shot. Then as it went into the neutral zone and Kane attempted to re-enter, Beauch took a swipe at the puck and tripped him up. In frustration after the whistle Beauch also gave Kane a cross check, but luckily the refs weren't feeling too vindictive at that point. The kill was very good from the Ducks, mostly thanks to Getzlaf and Cogliano hanging on to the puck in the Chicago/neutral zone for a good 20 seconds. By the end of the power play, though, Chicago had brought the shot totals to 11-10, in favor of the Ducks. To paraphrase our Sharky friends, #ItWas10-0.
Chicago went on a 3-on-2 rush, off of a cross ice pass, turned over at the blueline but couldn't get a shot off as a back checking Thompson tied up Duncan Keith's stick at the moment of truth. The Ducks pretty much immediately went the other way with Cogs springing Cakes on a partial break, but Seabrook gave him a little tap of the hands and got a body on him, sending him to the ice, into Crawford, also without getting a shot away. No call, however they were nabbed for having too many men on the ice just a few minutes later. This power play was significantly less dangerous than the first.
Chicago had a couple more chances before the end of the period, including a shot from the slot that Freddy had to make a quick kick save on and a pass that went off of Vatanen's skate and just barely over the net. However, with 24.8 seconds left in the period they pulled another goal back. Seabrook snuck down from the point almost all the way to the goal line. Teravainen spotted him from behind the net and set him up for the one timer. Freddy was over in time, but the shot was placed just above the pad and below his glove. 3-2 Ducks.
Third Period Recap:
The Ducks came out with a vengeance for the first couple of minutes of the third period. Silf tried to psych Crawford out by going behind the net and cutting back to the same side for a jam play. Crawford had the post sealed with his pad, but Matt Beleskey jumped on the rebound right in the crease and put it over the bar, thanks to some nifty stick work by Keith. Then it was Getzlaf with a shot, probably not on goal, but deflected off of the knob of Crawford's stick and the rebound off the end boards came right to Perry with Crawford on the wrong side of the crease, but he couldn't get the shot on goal from a sharp angle. That furious start ended when Stoner was called for hooking Sharp. This power play was better for Chicago than their first, but still their best chance was a bounce off the glass, through the crease that no Blackhawk was anywhere near.
Just after the kill, Teravainen let off a backhand shot from the slot that Freddy had to be quick to get his right skate on. Then Andrew Shaw walked one from the corner into the crease, but was smothered by the paddle of Andersen as well as Simon Despres and Fowler collapsing to help. The pace of the first seven minutes of the period were so fast that, just about everything looked like it was a scoring chance.
Right before the midway point of the period, the Ducks got two shots off of neutral zone interceptions. First, Kesler batted one down with his glove and carried in just far enough to be converged upon by three defenders and take a shot. Then it was Palmieri picking a pass off and rushing up the right boards for a decent shot that Crawford stopped, juggled a bit and covered. The shots weren't all that great, but it was good to see the adjustment of not allowing Chicago the long passes through the neutral zone that they were relying upon in their dominant second period.
Lindholm did a great job on a 2-1 against Brandon Saad (with Patrick Kane), to force Saad to the outside and not let him get the pass across, but just smother the play into the end boards.
The Ducks regained their two goal lead with 5:15 remaining on a beautiful tick tac toe passing play. Silfverberg picked a loose puck up in the Ducks' zone and rushed it all the way up the left boards, but didn't have help so he turned back, and Timmonen got the puck away from him on the boards, but only cleared as far as Getzlaf at the blueline. Fresh off the bench, Maroon won the puck back to Getzlaf and he spotted Vatanen streaking in, all alone on the other side of the zone. Vatanen, with speed got all the way to the slot before he zipped a pass off of Maroon's tape and in. The 3-0 first period was too good to be true, so the Ducks blew it with two minutes left and Matt Beleskey came through right at the start of OT, giving the Ducks a chance to advance to their third Stanley Cup Final in franchise history on Wednesday.
It looked like the Ducks were good to go to Chicago with a chance to close them out, but Hawks gonna Hawk, and more specifically, Toews gonna Toews.
Quenneville pulled Crawford with over two and a half minutes to go and had to put him back on momentarily a couple of times. With the extra attacker, Chicago worked the puck around the Ducks' zone like nobody's business. Toews got it on the right boards, passed to Keith on the blueline in the middle then they went high, low high down to Marian Hossa in the corner, up to Toews just above the left faceoff dot for the one timer, through some traffic, off the post and in. 4-3 Ducks.
Still looking ok though at this point with only 1:50 to go... wrong. Toews again. The Ducks iced the puck with 1:24 on the clock and Bruce Boudreau called his timeout, but it didn't help. The Ducks did clear a couple of times, but with only 37.2 seconds remaining Chicago dumped it in and Toews a shot toward the net from literally ON THE GOAL LINE, off of the inside of Freddy's left skate and in. 4-4 Tie.
To Quote our Sharky friends, #ItWas3-0 (and 4-2), but it was off to Overtime.
All was forgiven though, 45 seconds into overtime. The Ducks had all four shots in the short extra session, but only two of them mattered. Bickell tried to shoot a puck in, but it was blocked by the foot of Beauch, picked up by Silfverberg and he caught the Hawks on a change, sending Kesler in on a 2-on-1 with Beleskey. Kesler took the shot from the right faceoff circle, a juicy rebound came out to Beleskey in the slot and he had an empty net to score into, before he tripped over Crawford's foot and did a Bobby Orr impression. 5-4 Ducks Win. 3-2 Series Lead.
The Good: Just go back and read the first period recap, it was basically perfect in every way.
The Bad: Freddy was not good tonight. The first goal was definitely stopable; he had a chance on the second (though somebody has to be watching Seabrook there) and the tying goal, simply can't go in at any time, much less in the final minute of a playoff game. He's been very good all playoff long, but it was finally his turn to get bailed out by his teammates, rather than the other way around.
The Ugly: Do I really even need to say it? Giving up a two goal lead with two minutes left in regulation is atrocious. Thank the sweet baby Jesus that Bob Murray didn't cash Matt Beleskey in at the deadline. Whenever/however this season ends, we'll thank Bels for his service and wish him luck, swimming around in his Scrooge McDuck-esque pools of money.
3rd MVD: Sami Vatanen - Beautiful goal, beautiful assist, led the team in shot attempt differential (+7), could have had another on the power play if he was a little quicker on the shot. (honorable mention to Cam Fowler for having a really great first period, but he ended up on the other end of the possession spectrum, -16, by the end of the game)
2nd MVD: Matt Beleskey - Gotta give some love to the OT hero, but...
1st MVD: Ryan Kesler - That OT goal was just as much a product of Kesler's shot off the far pad for the rebound as it was Beleskey being in the right place at the right time. Also Kesler's goal was a beautiful exhibition of hand eye coordination.
Next Game: Game 6, Wednesday, May 27 5:00 PM PDT @ United Center, Chicago, Illinois