Anaheim Ducks

Blackhawks need more ‘quick plays’ to crack Anaheim’s structure

How to get the shot through.

In today’s NHL, it’s one of the major challenges for any offense — even one with as much firepower as the Chicago Blackhawks.

Thursday night, in Game 3 of the Western Conference Final, the ‘Hawks had 27 of their shot attempts blocked by the Ducks. Only 28 of their attempts ended up on net, and only one went in during the 2-1 loss.

“Just means we’ve got to battle a little bit harder,” said forward Andrew Shaw.

That’s the typical response. It all comes down to hard work. Competing. Paying the price.

But Shaw’s, teammate, Brandon Saad has another suggestion.

“I think last night (we) played a little too much on the perimeter, trying to make too many plays,” Saad said. “I think when we delay the play, wait to find the perfect shot, they get a chance to get in the lane. The more we force it to the net, make quick plays, it’s going to be to our advantage.”

That’s more in line with the “play fast” mentality that most teams strive for, except usually we hear that phrase in terms of moving the puck quickly up the ice, forcing the defenders to turn while taking away their time to get set up in the neutral zone.

By the way, the Blackhawks had a tough time getting through the neutral zone, too.

“They have good sticks, five guys behind center all looking to check,” said coach Joel Quenneville. “I think getting it in sometimes is the best alternative, whether it’s on a net, a rim or a chip. … I think we got to use our speed to get center and get it behind them.”

During the Calgary series, Ducks center Ryan Kesler was asked what it takes to defeat a team with speed, like both the Flames and Blackhawks possess.

“Structure,” Kesler replied, per the Daily Breeze. “I think just playing as a five-man unit out there. … If we play really structurally sound, then they can’t break through us.”

And Thursday night, the ‘Hawks couldn’t.

Video: ‘I got bumped the whole game,’ says Crawford

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It appears the Anaheim Ducks have made it their mission to make life as unpleasant as possible for Chicago Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford.

On both Anaheim goals in a Game 3 win over Chicago on Thursday, Corey Perry was standing directly in front of Crawford, providing the perfect screen on shots from the point.

Patrick Maroon scored on a deflection, and Simon Despres got his shot past a helpless Crawford, who didn’t move over to his left in time and it can be argued that was because of Perry in front.

“Just came down to one play, I guess,” Crawford said, as per CSN Chicago. “I got bumped. I got bumped the whole game. It wasn’t enough to get called, but it was enough on that one (to be) a little distraction. I’ve got to find a way to not get caught up, I guess.”

Video: Ducks show ‘resiliency’ with Game 3 victory

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The Anaheim Ducks now find themselves in a position to put the Chicago Blackhawks on the ropes. Thanks to a Game 3 victory in Chicago on Thursday, the Ducks now lead the Western Conference Final 2-1 after bouncing back from a triple overtime loss on Tuesday.

Anaheim successfully killed off five Chicago power plays, including a four-minute advantage in the first period. Frederik Andersen made 27 saves. And the Ducks got the winning goal from Simon Despres, who had never scored before in the post-season.

Afterward, defenseman Cam Fowler lauded the Ducks’ “resiliency” in the win.

Ducks head coach Bruce Boudreau told reporters during his post-game press conference that this was a “character win.”

Video: Ducks hold off Blackhawks in Game 3 to take series lead

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Patrick Kane had the puck on his stick, only seconds left in regulation, with a chance to send Game 3 to overtime. He missed, just barely, his shot sliding off the outside of the post.

And from there, the Anaheim Ducks were able to hold off the Chicago Blackhawks to take Thursday’s game by a final score of 2-1, which now also happens to be Anaheim’s lead in this Western Conference Final.

Sorry, no marathon overtime.

Simon Despres had never scored a Stanley Cup playoff goal before Thursday. His slap shot blast that beat Corey Crawford in the final minute of the second period stood as the winner. Talk about perfect timing.

The Blackhawks had their chances, but couldn’t take advantage.

They had five power play opportunities and were unsuccessful with each and every one of them. They are now 2-for-13 in the series. Their only goals with the advantage were in Game 2.

Chicago’s top players are also struggling to produce offensively so far in this series.

Kane did score late in the opening period for his first goal and point of this series. Jonathan Toews has only one point — an assist in Game 2. Marian Hossa has only one point. Patrick Sharp doesn’t have a point in four games.

It’s something to keep an eye on for Game 4 on Saturday.

Video: Despres scores first career playoff goal to give the Ducks the lead

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Simon Despres isn’t known for his scoring. But his first career Stanley Cup playoff goal is an important one for the Anaheim Ducks.

Despres blasted a one-time shot past a helpless Corey Crawford to give the Ducks a 2-1 lead in the final minute of the second period of Game 3, with the Western Conference Final tied at 1-1.