As good a team as the Anaheim Ducks are, the Chicago Blackhawks were the popular choice to win this series. Chicago was coming off of a sweep of Minnesota and possesses a squad with a proven track record of playoff success. After a wild Game 5 loss though, Chicago needs a win tonight just to stay alive. Meanwhile, Anaheim has an opportunity to advance to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since 2007.
The contest will start at 8:00 p.m. ET, but the pregame coverage will begin at 7:00 p.m. on NBCSN and the NBC Sports Live Extra stream, which you can view via the link below:
CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE
In the meantime, here’s some pregame reading material:
Etem likely to draw back in tonight versus Chicago
Sounds like it’s Rundblad, not TVR, in for Chicago on defense
(Video) PHT Extra: Blackhawks one loss away from interesting summer
Boudreau isn’t worried about Andersen after Ducks ‘bailed him out’
PHT Morning Skate: Emilio Estevez supports Ducks as ‘Gordon Bombay’
Toews: We’re ready for this challenge
Ducks win crazy Game 5, push ‘Hawks to edge of elimination
Monday’s 5-4 overtime defeat has to be a tough one for Chicago to swallow. Nevermind that losing Game 5 pushed the Blackhawks’ to the brink of elimination; this is loss would have been frustrating at any point of the season. The Blackhawks start has be seen by them as simply unacceptable and their incredible late-game rally was spoiled by an early overtime error.
None of that seems to have soured Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews’ outlook though.
“We feel that we’re a tough team to get rid of,” Toews said, per the Chicago Sun-Times. “And now obviously the next game’s a must-win for us. A lot of guys, most guys, if not everybody in this room, definitely believe that that’s when we play our best, when our backs are against the wall. So we’re ready for that challenge.”
Chicago certainly has the experience to fall back on. The Blackhawks know what it takes to win, especially in high pressure situations.
“We’ve been through that before,” Patrick Sharp said. “We won the Stanley Cup with two goals in 17 seconds. They don’t get much higher than that. It’s a good series. Good team over there, good team in here.”
Winning two in a row against Anaheim will not be a small task. The Ducks haven’t suffered back-to-back losses yet in the playoffs and haven’t even been beaten in regulation yet. Chicago certainly has the talent to beat any team under the right circumstances and even tonight Toews showed why they can never be counted out.
This has been nothing if not an eventful Western Conference Final. With these two teams, it wouldn’t be surprising if Game 6 is more of the same.
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.