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Ducks' First Regulation Loss Forces Game 7

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There were some eerie similarities to Game 5, but this time the leading/home team closed it out as they should have. And so the Western Conference Final will be decided in Game 7 on Saturday.

Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

Final Score: Ducks 2, Blackhawks 5

ducks hawks game 6 corsi

[Ed./Author Note: Sorry if this is a little less detailed than usual, not re-watching this one to recap because a) I don't have time and b) I don't want to.  It's possible a re-watch could settle my feelings down a little, but not going to happen, so fair warning: This could get grim. -CK]

First Period Recap:

The first period was really not all that bad.  In the parlance of the players and coaches, it was a "good road period."  Similar to some of the overtime periods earlier in the series, the Ducks had the better volume of shots and attempts (actually 5v5 shot attempts were even, 17-17, but the Ducks had an edge when considering only unblocked 12-6) however Chicago had the more dangerous opportunities.

The Ducks got the first power play in the game, as the Hawks skated with too many men on the ice and Teuvo Teravainen served the bench minor.  It was everything a Ducks power play can be, but you don't want it to be.  They essentially lost the opening faceoff and didn't get it back in the zone until there were only 15 seconds remaining on the penalty.  Chicago's first extra man opportunity, about three minutes after the kill, off of a Corey Perry hook of Duncan Keith (forced by interference from Jonathan Toews), was better but still only produced two shots and no goals.

By far the best chance of the opening 20 for either team was created by a horrendous turnover at the defensive blueline on an attempted breakout pass by Ryan Getzlaf.  The Captain had full control and tried to slip a backhand pass through the middle of the ice to..... someone..... (actually Cam Fowler joining the rush) without looking, but instead gave it right to Brandon Saad for a quick 2-on-0 with Jonathan Toews.  Corey Perry made a diving play to get back and cut off Saad's cross crease pass to Toews, but would have deflected it in if Frederik Andersen wasn't alert with his feet, and he had to make a toe save on the second whack from Saad.

Second Period Recap:

Jiri Sekac blatantly elbowed Brent Seabrook in the head on the forecheck, as the defenseman cleared the zone early in the period.  The ensuing power play didn't result in any shots for the Blackhawks though.

Then the scoring began.  First it was Saad 8:23 into the period.  Duncan Keith's exit pass to Patrick Kane shouldn't have been much of a problem as the Ducks were in fine defensive position, however Francois Beauchemin jumped up on him and got roasted by a quick touch pass on to Saad with speed through center ice.  Sadd's power skating got him around Hampus Lindholm and in on Andersen for a breakaway from the blueline.  He put it away, fivehole.  1-0 Hawks.

About two minutes later, Marian Hossa extended the lead with a practically empty net.  The entire play was made by Keith, who had the puck for an eternity just inside the top of the circles.  He faked shooting twice, froze every Duck on the ice, including Andersen who committed, came out to challenge and Keith passed to Hossa, open in the slot with a wide open net to shoot at.  2-0 Hawks.

Kane completed the trifecta roughly a minute and a half later.  Keith knocked down an aerial clearing attempt with his glove at the blueline, then passed it to Kane on the right boards.  From there Kane put on a show, as he has been known to do.  He dangled Matt Beleskey out of his jock in the high slot, cut across to the left hash mark and put his wrist shot on net.  Freddy got a piece of it, but it squeezed between his arm and body and trickled over the line before Toews could slam it home, which he would have done easily because he was being "covered" by Clayton Stoner.  3-0 Hawks. That was three goals in 3:45, which would have been impressive if not for the Ducks three in 37 in Game 4.  Still, all but the most delusional optimistic among us knew that was all she wrote.

The Ducks did get one back on the power play before the end of the period, though to give some false hope.  Brad Richards was sent off for hooking Emerson Etem and seven seconds later, Patrick Maroon tipped a Cam Fowler point shot past Corey Crawford.  3-1 Hawks.

Anaheim had to kill one more penalty before escaping the disastrous second period with a mere two goal deficit as Ryan Kesler tripped Crawford.  Again the Hawks PP was held without a shot, but the damage had been done.  Shots were 13-9, attempts were 19-11 and unblocked attempts 16-8 all in favor of the home team.

Third Period Recap:

The comeback was actually on, early when a goal came from the most unlikely of unlikely sources.... Clayton F***ING Stoner!  Just 1:57 into the third, Stoner unleashed a point shot that went in off the pipe (hehe, Stoner off the pipe).  Before you go looking for four horsemen etc., he had assistance from Jakob Silfverberg cutting across the crease and clearly interfering with Crawford's glove hand, which would have snared the puck easily.  3-2 Hawks.

Adding insult to injury, Andrew Desjardins was called for goalie interference against Andersen only a minute or so later.  Joel Quenneville was not happy, as you could imagine.  The Ducks continued buzzing, getting four shots on the power play and almost got back to even, immediately after the opening faceoff.  Fowler shot it from the top of the left circle, Perry was in front to get something on the rebound and it was trickling toward an empty corner of the net, when who else but Duncan Keith swept it out of the crease.

After the power play, there wasn't a whistle for the next six minutes and 13 seconds.  In the intervening time both teams had chances and Simon Despres had a little Gregory Campbell moment.  After making one outstanding defensive play with his stick, Despres was hampred by blocking a shot, but stayed out and blocked another before he could get to the bench.  He missed a shift or two but returned to the game.

Trying to keep the pressure on, and giving the defense the green light to join the play in the offensive zone was working as the Ducks continued to push for the equalizer, but they got caught on the counter, as you do sometimes.  Getzlaf was covering the point, and lost a battle with Andrew Shaw.  The puck bounced back into the Chicago zone to Antoine Vermette and he threw it out for Desjardins to catch up to, creating a 2-on-1 with Shaw against Despres.  Desjardins got the pass across Getzlaf was putting back pressure on Shaw, but he protected the puck and got a backhander past the glove of Andersen.  4-2 Hawks.

At that point it was truly over, unless the Ducks could pull of some ridiculous magic like Toews did in Game 5.  They pulled Andersen with about two minutes left, but Shaw finished it off into the empty net.  5-2 Hawks Win.

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The Good: It could be argued that the Ducks were the better team for the majority of the game (i.e. both the first and third periods), and just couldn't overcome the return to the terrible second period syndrome they had for most of the year.  But that's as optimistic as it gets.  The first was a marginal advantage at best, the third was 1000% score effect fueled panic and they still ended up being outscored 2-1 in that period.  The real good thing is that Beleskey and Kesler pulled Game 5 out of the fire and the series isn't quite over yet.

The Bad: Remember all year when we were talking about falling behind and trying to recover in the third period?  Remember how we said it would eventually come back to bite the Ducks in the ass?  Well it may have just cost them a trip to the Stanley Cup Final.  That kind of crap may work against the Winnipegs and Calgarys of the world (even though they didn't have to come back from a third period deficit against Calgary in the playoffs) but not against THE CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS.

The Ugly: This may in fact be definitive proof that the Ducks are not the better team in this series.  Chicago put themselves in exactly the same position(s) the Ducks were in for Game 5 and reacted infinitely better.  Up 3-0, allow the team to come back within one, to give hope, score an insurance goal mid/late third period, goalie pulled with two minutes left: The Ducks blew it and had to risk it all in overtime, the Hawks closed the deal with an empty netter.  Not only that, but history may be repeating itself.  The last two years, the Ducks have had a chance to eliminate a team in Game 6 but failed to do so, then dramatically failed to win Game 7 at home.  There is no evidence yet to show that they have learned from that experience (as they have been saying ever since the end of Game 5).  That doesn't mean they can't pull out a Game 7 win, because literally anything can happen in a single elimination game, but think happy thoughts at your own risk.

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3rd Icehole: Patrick Kane - Assist on the opening goal to spring Saad, scored the eventual winner.  No coincidence that Chicago's most dangerous offensive player's only multi-point game of the series (so far) is the only one that they've won comfortably.

2nd Icehole: Andrew Shaw - Scored the two goals that acted as the nails in the coffin, the insurance marker in the third and the empty netter.  At the end of the day, they weren't officially needed to win the game, but again, that was the difference between closing a game out, and what the Ducks did in Game 5.

1st Icehole: Duncan Keith - Three points on the first three goals, another billion minutes of ice time.  It may be time to start making Scott Niedermayer/Nick Lidstrom comparisons to this guy.

Next Game: Game 7, Saturday, May 30 5:00 PM PDT @ Honda Center