The Western Conference Final has been a series of give and take, absorb then respond. Chicago has to hope that trend continues as Anaheim moved within one victory of the Stanley Cup Final with its 5-4 overtime win in Game 5 tonight.
Chicago and Anaheim had gone past the 60-minute mark twice in this series before tonight’s game and the Blackhawks had claimed both of those contests. That combined with the fact that Monday’s contest went to overtime because Jonathan Toews scored twice in the final two minutes of the third seemed to suggest that Chicago was the more likely team to come out on top.
Matt Beleskey had other ideas though as he found the back of the net with help from Ryan Kesler and Jakob Silfverberg. The fact that Beleskey was the difference was an interesting wrinkle as he initially lost his second line role to Tomas Fleischmann at the start of the contest.
Shaking up the lines seemed to have a positive result at first as Anaheim dominated the first period. The Ducks came out flying tonight with an 11-3 edge in shots on goal in the first period. By the time that frame was over, Anaheim had a 3-0 lead.
The Ducks needed every last one of those markers because Chicago wasn’t ready to concede this game. Rookie Teuvo Teravainen had a big second period to narrow Anaheim’s edge to a single goal, which set the stage for Toews’ third period heroics.
Although he didn’t have the most dramatic game, this was also a historic night for Ryan Getzlaf as his two assists gives him a franchise record breaking 19 points in 14 playoff games.
Of course the most important thing for him and the Ducks is that they now have a 3-2 series lead. This isn’t how they wanted the game to go, but they can’t argue with the result.
The Anaheim Ducks led for 54:12 consecutive minutes tonight, but they just couldn’t keep Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews down forever.
With Chicago trailing by two goals and less than two minutes left in regulation time, Toews gave Chicago a glimmer of hope by rocking a one-timer set up by Marian Hossa:
The Blackhawks pulled goaltender Corey Crawford and with 37 seconds remaining, Toews once again found himself with the puck and flung it towards netminder Frederik Andersen from a bad angle. He needed luck to be on his side to cash in on that attempt and this time it was:
Those were Toews sixth and seventh goals of the 2015 playoffs. With the Western Conference Final tied at 2-2, this could be looked back on as the turning point for Chicago. Anaheim will do everything it can to make sure that’s not the case, but its lost two overtime games to the Blackhawks already.
Game 5 between the Chicago Blackhawks and Anaheim Ducks has been a contest of extremes. The Ducks had a big edge in the first period and their efforts were rewarded with a 3-0 lead.
If they though they could just bank the win after 20 minutes though, they were mistaken as Chicago rebounded in a big way in the second frame. Teuvo Teravainen set the tone of the period by getting Chicago on the board just 1:11 minutes into it. He later set up defenseman Brent Seabrook’s marker just before the second intermission:
Teravainen deserves a lot of credit for his work to create that turnover and for feeding the puck to Seabrook, but the Blackhawks’ defenseman wasn’t given much to work with by Ducks goaltender Frederik Andersen and it’s remarkable that he was able to get it past the netminder under those circumstances.
Anaheim still has a one-goal lead, but it can’t afford another 20 minutes like that.
The Memorial Cup continued on Monday with Oilers prospect Leon Draisaitl playing a big role in the Kelowna Rockets’ 7-3 victory over Rimouski Oceanic.
Draisaitl assisted on the opening goal and found the back of the net twice. Teammates Gage Quinney and Nick Merkley also scored two goals each for Kelowna. Toronto Maple Leafs prospect Frederik Gauthier had a goal and an assist in the losing effort.
Kelowna has improved to 1-1 in the tournament while Rimouski has fallen to 0-2. The Oshawa Generals lead the pack after winning their first two games and they’ll look to continue that tomorrow against Kelowna.
Draisaitl played in 37 games with Edmonton this season before he was returned to the juniors. He went on to record 19 goals and 53 points in 32 regular season games with the Rockets.
Draisaitl is arguably the Oilers’ best forward prospect, but that’s obviously only if you don’t count the undrafted Connor McDavid.
The Anaheim Ducks got off to a hot start tonight and that continued late in the first period when Sami Vatanen scored off of the faceoff:
Ryan Getzlaf assisted on that marker, which gives him 18 points in 14 contests. That’s put him in a tie for the Anaheim Ducks’ franchise record for playoff points in a single year with, well, himself. Getzlaf set the record in 2009 with 18 points in 13 contests, per the Ducks’ Twitter feed. He also recorded a team-leading 17 points in 2007 when Anaheim won the Cup.
With the Western Conference Final tied at 2-2, Game 5’s opening period was very one sided. Chicago managed just three shots on goal to Anaheim’s 11, although that was largely because the Blackhawks were missing the net entirely or having its shots blocked by Anaheim. In terms of shots attempted in 5-on-5 play, the frame was actually even as you can see per War on Ice: