Who knows what the future will bring for the Chicago Blackhawks. They have some serious cap concerns going into the summer that will force them to make hard choices, albeit not for the first time in recent memory, and who knows how many more times 36-year-old Marian Hossa can rise to the occasion in the playoffs. Perhaps this will prove to be the final days of an era for Chicago, but thanks to their 5-3 victory tonight, it’s certainly not over yet.
WATCH: Full replay of Game 7
The story of the Blackhawks’ glory years is still being written and they’re making it hard to find ways to oversell them. At a time in the NHL where the salary cap has ended the likelihood of us ever seeing another dynasty in the traditional sense, Chicago will be playing in the Stanley Cup Final for the third time in six years.
It’s the usual suspects getting them there. Captain Jonathan Toews set the tone of this game with his two early goals. Patrick Kane registered three assists, giving him 111 points in 110 games. Kane is just one of 20 players to average at least a point-per-game in a minimum of 100 postseason contests, per Sportsnet.
Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford came up big as well. His shaky start to the playoffs now a distant memory, Crawford was arguably the difference in the second period as Anaheim launched 18 shots and Crawford turned aside all but one.
The winner though came from Hossa, which will likely be a sore point for Anaheim as the fact that the puck went off his skate made the marker controversial. Still, Anaheim didn’t lose by just one goal.
For the Ducks, this is the third year in a row that they’ve fallen in Game 7, but it was still a year of progress for them. They made it to the Western Conference Final after storming past Winnipeg and Calgary. They have the potential to come back next year and finally go the distance.
This year though belongs to the Blackhawks and Lightning. Both needed seven games to get past difficult opponents. Their battle will start on Wednesday.
The Anaheim Ducks did a far better job than Chicago when it came to getting the puck to the net in the second period of Game 7, but just one of those attempts beat netminder Corey Crawford. Ducks goaltender Frederik Andersen is not having nearly as good of a game.
With Anaheim already down 3-0 late in the second period, Marian Hossa got another one by him, but this time the marker was controversial because it clearly went off of the Blackhawks forward’s skate. The only question is if it was a distinct kicking motion and after a review, the NHL ruled that it wasn’t.
You can judge it for yourself below:
Of course, this call would attract far more debate if Chicago didn’t already have a sizable lead and if Anaheim stages a comeback that comes up just short, then that will amplify the spotlight on this goal. Nevertheless, it’s fair to say that very little has gone the Ducks’ way tonight and they are now in danger of seeing their tremendous effort in the Western Conference Final end with a whimper.
The last thing Anaheim wanted to do is draw comparisons to Game 7 against Los Angeles last year when the Ducks, in the words of coach Bruce Boudreau, were “nervous Nellies” and ultimately lost 6-2.
Nevertheless, Anaheim has found itself in a similar position in the deciding contest of the Western Conference Final, but this time it was largely due to the efforts of Jonathan Toews. After the Blackhawks captain got Chicago on the board early, he followed it up with a top-shelf, power-play marker midway through the frame:
As long as we’re talking about the Kings though, Chicago had a 2-0 lead against Los Angeles in Game 7 of the 2014 Western Conference Final and ultimately lost that game. Obviously Chicago has had a lot of key games go its way as well in recent years, but one thing remains true: Two goal leads aren’t safe.
Anaheim is down, but not out yet.
The team that scores first has won 73.8% of Game 7s in the NHL. Jonathan Toews wasted no time putting Chicago on the right side of history.
The Blackhawks captain parked himself in front of Ducks goalie Frederik Andersen and was quick to capitalize on a rebound opportunity from Niklas Hjalmarsson’s shot as you can see below:
Not that its out of the ordinary for him, but Toews has been very effective in this series. He came into tonight’s action with three goals and five points in the 2015 Western Conference Final. That includes his two late markers in Game 5, which dramatically forced overtime in what was ultimately still a missed opportunity for Chicago.
Patrick Kane also assisted on the goal, giving him 109 playoff points in 110 career games.
Predators GM David Poile took a chance when he signed Mike Ribeiro to a one-year deal after the Arizona Coyotes bought him out and that worked out nicely for Nashville. Now he’s among the Predators’ top priorities ahead of the start of the free agent period on July 1.
“(Mike) Fisher and Ribeiro are two guys we really want to get under contract soon,” Poile said, per NHL.com.
Poile had previously made his intentions clear with regard to Fisher. For the record, Fisher has expressed optimism about his chances of re-signing with Nashville while Ribeiro has also said that he’d like to return.
He likely won’t come cheap though. Under his cap friendly $1.05 million deal for 2014-15, Ribeiro had 15 goals and 62 points in 82 contests. He often played alongside rookie standout Filip Forsberg.
Poile also said that Nashville probably won’t re-sign Cody Franson or Mike Santorelli. He acquired both of them from Toronto in February as part of a deal that involved the Predators surrendering their 2015 first round pick.
After prepping for three years, Franson excited to test free agency