It just seems appropriate.
In a Western Conference Final where the Chicago Blackhawks and Anaheim Ducks have each had their moments to shine, where neither squad has been able to keep the other down for long, it would have been almost anticlimactic if we were given anything less than the full seven games. Chicago guaranteed that we’ll get that deciding contest by earning a 5-2 victory tonight.
After losing Game 5 in no small part due to their terrible start, the Blackhawks came out strong tonight. They were initially dominant on the draw and had some great scoring chances, but Anaheim held on to maintain the scoreless tie through 20 minutes.
It wasn’t until midway through the second period that Chicago’s efforts were finally rewarded with Brandon Saad’s breakaway goal. Marian Hossa and Patrick Kane followed that up with a pair of goals, giving Chicago three markers in the span of less than four minutes. Duncan Keith assisted on all of those goals to tie his career-high, per the NHL’s Communications Department.
As both sides should be well aware at this point though, a 3-0 lead isn’t safe. While the final score was ultimately one-sided, Anaheim nearly came back as Patrick Maroon netted a power-play goal at 14:13 of the second period and Clayton Stoner added a controversial marker early in the third period.
The final frame was largely dominated by the Ducks, but the Blackhawks managed to hold on until Andrew Shaw provided them with some much needed insurance.
Shaw also collected an empty netter to bury this game.
That marks the first time Anaheim has lost in regulation since the playoffs began. Chicago needed to go to triple and double overtime to beat them in Games 2 and 4 respectively.
Game 7 will be played in Anaheim on Saturday. For Chicago to win this series, it will have to become the first team to earn back-to-back victories in the 2015 Western Conference Final.
The Anaheim Ducks might have caught a critical break in the third period of Game 6 against the Chicago Blackhawks. Down 3-1, Anaheim’s Clayton Stoner scored with 18:03 remaining in regulation time. However, his marker was arguably aided by teammate Jakob Silfverberg, who bumped into Chicago goaltender Corey Crawford.
Judging by Crawford’s body language immediately following the goal, it seems safe to assume he felt it shouldn’t have counted. Nevertheless it did.
You can see that for yourself below:
Keep in mind that we have the benefit of instant replay, but that’s not something officials get when it comes to potential interference calls.
The Blackhawks will be eliminated from the playoffs if they lose tonight.
The Chicago Blackhawks broke out in the second period by scoring three goals within the span of four minutes, but Patrick Maroon was able to give the Ducks reason to hope going into the final frame.
With the man advantage late in the period, Maroon got into position and deflected Cam Fowler’s shot past goaltender Corey Crawford to narrow Chicago’s lead to two:
Maroon has been a pleasant surprise for Anaheim in the playoffs. After scoring nine goals in 71 regular season games, this was his seventh in 15 playoff contests. He’s found the back of the net in three of the Ducks’ last four games.
Anaheim still has an steep uphill climb ahead of it though. Including the regular season, Chicago is 30-0-0 when leading through 40 minutes.
With their season on the line, the Chicago Blackhawks had some great opportunities to strike first in Game 6 of the Western Conference Final, but they couldn’t quite capitalize in the opening frame.
Perhaps Chicago’s best chance of the first period occurred near the halfway mark when a turnover by Ryan Getzlaf led to a great opportunity in front by Brandon Saad. Goaltender Frederik Andersen was able to stretch out to make the save.
Chicago also nearly opened up this game late in the frame when Ducks defenseman Sami Vatanen wasn’t able to control the puck in the neutral zone, which led to Patrick Sharp flinging a shot at Andersen. The Ducks goalie made the initial save, but surrendered a juicy rebound for Teuvo Teravainen. Unfortunately for Chicago, he ended up missing the net.
You can watch those plays below:
Saad got another chance to bury the puck in the second period though and this time he would not be denied:
That opened up the floodgates as Marian Hossa and then Patrick Kane both found the back of the net within four minutes of Saad’s marker.
After a one-game break, Emerson Etem looks as though he’ll return to the Anaheim lineup tonight for Game 6 of the Western Conference Final in Chicago.
Etem, who sat Game 5 so Tomas Fleischmann could draw in, has experienced an up-and-down postseason. He scored one of the nicest goals of the playoffs against Winnipeg in Round 1, but has also flipped-flopped with Fleischman throughout, appearing in 11 of 14 games all told.
(Fleischmann had a relatively quiet Game 5, going pointless in 10:14 TOI without registering a shot on goal.)
Etem, 22, certainly gives the Ducks a different speed element in the lineup. One of the fastest skaters on the team, he can give opposing defensemen fits by trying to take them one-on-one, which might come into play tonight against a Blackhawks team that’s really only playing four blueliners, and will insert David Rundblad this evening at the expense of Kimmo Timonen.