Anaheim Ducks

Blackhawks even series against Ducks with triple OT win in longest game in franchise history

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The marathon finally came to an end.

The Chicago Blackhawks, in what was the longest game in their franchise’s long history, prevailed over the Anaheim Ducks by a final score of 3-2 in triple overtime, which evens this Western Conference Final up at 1-1.

Marcus Kruger was in the right spot at the right time. He managed to tap the puck over the goal line to score the winner at the 16:12 mark of the third overtime period. Before the Kruger goal, you had to go all the way back to 6:19 of the first period for Chicago’s second goal of the evening.

“No, it’s a great feeling. We almost played two games out there. To put it in and get a big win here, leaving California with 1-1, we’re pretty satisfied with,” Kruger told reporters.

“Going back to Chicago, it’s going to be a great feeling stepping out there on the United Center.”

The series now shifts back to Chicago for Games 3 and 4.

The Ducks will lament three goal posts hit during the overtime session. They also couldn’t get that one final goal by Corey Crawford, who was sensational, making 60 saves for the win. At the other end, Frederik Andersen was just as good, making 53 saves in the second longest game in Ducks’ franchise history.

This game seemed to have a little bit of everything.

Chicago felt it had the OT winner in the second extra period, when Andrew Shaw head-butted the puck into the net. After a brief review, the goal was waved off.

Crawford, who looked completely exhausted at times during stoppages in play in the third overtime, tried to throw a hit on Rickard Rakell and fell over, with a scrum ensuing.

And Chicago was victorious essentially leaning on four defensemen for the majority of six periods. Duncan Keith, Niklas Hjalmarsson, Brent Seabrook and Johnny Oduya each played more than 45 minutes, while Kimmo Timonen and Kyle Cumiskey were both under 20 minutes of ice time.

Fatigue?

Video: Crawford tries to bump Rakell, falls over, scrum ensues

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It’s getting feisty between the Anaheim Ducks and Chicago Blackhawks in Game 2.

Even Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford decided to get in on the action, as he tried to throw a hit on Rickard Rakell outside of his crease after a whistle. The hit maybe didn’t go as planned. Crawford fell and a scrum ensued. No penalties were handed out.

Seconds before that, Ducks forward Jiri Sekac busted out the toe-drag move for a scoring chance and then threw a massive open-ice hit on Antoine Vermette.

Video: Stoner penalized after dangerous cross check from behind

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Anaheim Ducks defenseman Clayton Stoner was given a minor penalty for cross checking after a hit from behind on Chicago Blackhawks forward Marcus Kruger.

The incident occurred early in the first period.

The cross check sent Kruger dangerously head-first into the end boards. Kruger remained in the game. After the play was stopped, Stoner got his hands up in the face of Chicago’s Andrew Shaw, who went to confront the Ducks’ blue liner, but was called for only the one initial infraction.

Video: Blackhawks power play strikes twice early in Game 2

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The Chicago Blackhawks, trailing 1-0 in this Western Conference Final, got off to a quick start in Game 2 against the Anaheim Ducks, courtesy of their power play.

Andrew Shaw opened the scoring just 2:14 into the first period with his second of the post-season, making Patrick Maroon pay for an earlier boarding penalty.

Just over four minutes later, the Blackhawks increased their lead thanks to a Marian Hossa power play goal, also his second of these playoffs.

However, any Blackhawks’ euphoria from the dream start was short-lived. The Ducks, on a goal from Andrew Cogliano, cut Chicago’s lead to 2-1 just before the midway point of the first period.

The puck deflected in off the skate of Cogliano, but the goal stood after a brief review.

In case you haven’t noticed, the NHL is a young man’s game

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Just for the sake of the discussion — and since everyone’s talking about Tyler Johnson today — here are all the players who have scored at least five goals in these playoffs:

Johnson (11), Corey Perry (7), Patrick Kane (7), Nikita Kucherov (6), Chris Kreider (6), Vladimir Tarasenko (6), Alex Killorn (6), Derek Stepan (5), Alex Ovechkin (5), Derick Brassard (5), Evgeny Kuznetsov (5), Max Pacioretty (5), Matt Beleskey (5), and Colin Wilson (5).

That’s 14 players. Can you pick out the oldest?

The answer is Anaheim’s Perry, who turned 30 on Saturday. Only slightly younger than Perry, Ovechkin will turn 30 in September.

Otherwise, it’s all players who are comfortably in their 20s, their legs still full of burst, their bodies not yet worn down by the grind of taking hundreds of pucks hard to the net, and all the punishment that goes with scoring goals in today’s NHL.

This isn’t to say that once a goal-scorer turns 30 he should be put out to pasture, like the theory about running backs in the NFL. Marian Gaborik, Justin Williams, and Martin St. Louis all had productive postseasons last year. This year is perhaps an extreme case.

But it does show the importance of youth, and how quickly a player — especially a forward — can go from getting drafted to making a significant impact.

True, patience is required when developing prospects. You don’t want to rush them. There’s nothing wrong with learning the game in the AHL. But at the same time, there has to be a sense of urgency in getting prospects ready for the NHL so they can enjoy as many productive seasons as possible, before their peak years (at a relatively low cap hit) are over.

Hence, all the talk surrounding 20-year-old Jonathan Drouin. While it’s not like the Lightning should be hitting the panic button that he hasn’t yet gained the trust of his coach, it’s not unfair to wonder if he’s fallen a bit behind in his development.

In a related story, Capitals GM Brian MacLellan knows “the next three or four years is the window” in Washington. Because, where will Ovechkin’s game be after that? Where will Nicklas Backstrom’s? The Caps have an opportunity over the next few years to get production from both their veterans and their youth. That’s the sweet spot every GM aims for. And those sweet spots don’t last long.