Video: Ducks had their chances, but couldn’t capitalize in OT

5 Comments

Three times in the overtime session, the Anaheim Ducks hit the post or crossbar. They were that close from winning Game 2 and taking a 2-0 series lead against the Chicago Blackhawks in the Western Conference Final.

Unlucky in that sense, the Ducks were also met with a terrific bounce-back goaltending performance from Corey Crawford, who had to make 28 saves combined over three extra periods in Chicago’s Game 2 win that ties this series.

“These are the tough ones, but you shake it off and keep going. I had a few I should have buried,” said Corey Perry, as per the Ducks’ Twitter account.

“That’s hockey. Sometimes those go in and sometimes they don’t. Maybe I’ll change my stick and those will go in,” added Sami Vatanen, who hit the post on two occasions in OT.

But will a loss like this have a psychological impact on the Ducks going forward in this series? NBC’s Keith Jones and Mike Milbury discuss if that could be the case.

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

34 Comments

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

8 Comments

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.

Crawford ‘feeling pretty good’ after slow start to playoffs

So, Corey Crawford didn’t get off to the best start in these Stanley Cup playoffs.

— He was pulled after the first period of Game 1 against Nashville in the opening round.

— He started Game 2 and gave up six goals on 35 shots.

— He was “a little pissed off at first” that Scott Darling took over the starting job in that first-round series.

But it’s not always about how you start. Since taking back the No. 1 goalie job at the end of the Nashville series, Crawford has been spectacular for the Chicago Blackhawks.

“I never necessarily get low, confidence-wise, about my game,” Crawford told NHL.com.

“I was a little ticked off, I guess you could say, that I wasn’t in there. But I was still ready to get back in. I was working hard, and I mean … things happen. Sometimes things don’t go your way, and you can’t really let your emotions affect your play after that.”

In a four-game sweep of the Minnesota Wild in the second round, Crawford allowed only seven goals. Two of those came during a frantic stretch in the final three minutes, when the Wild tried desperately to send Game 4 to overtime and possibly extend the series.

“I don’t think I was completely awful the first [series],” said Crawford. “It just took a little bit to get into it. I was out quick, lost the timing and when I came back, I got it back pretty quick. I’m feeling pretty good right now.”

Despite stunning Wild finish, ‘Hawks eliminate them for third straight year

51 Comments

The Minnesota Wild went into this series hoping this year would be different. After being eliminated by the Chicago Blackhawks in the 2013 and 2014 playoffs, Minnesota certainly seemed to be in a better position.

The Wild finished the season with a 28-9-3 run. They beat the Central Division winning St. Louis Blues in six games. They had more experience this time around. They weren’t dealing with goaltending injuries. Surely this year would be different.

No.

Chicago forwards Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, and Patrick Sharp played at their typical high level while goaltender Corey Crawford successfully put his rough first round behind him. At the other end of the ice Devan Dubnyk, who got a Vezina Trophy nomination off the strength of his superb second half in 2014-15, couldn’t consistently hold his own against the Blackhawks.

In a last gasp, the Wild scored two goals in the final three minutes of play, but it was too late as their season ended with a 4-3 loss to Chicago. In the end, Marian Hossa’s shorthanded goal on an empty net proved to be the winner. Before that, Kane provided the Blackhawks with a key insurance goal midway through the third period:

Chicago has become the first team to eliminate the same opponent in three consecutive years since Toronto did that to Ottawa in 2000-02, per the NHL Communications Department.

This also means that the Blackhawks have advanced to the Western Conference Final for the fifth time in seven years. That’s a remarkable stretch of playoff success, especially in the salary cap era.

Questions remain for Chicago going forward, not the least of which is what its defense will look like if Michal Rozsival misses a lengthy period of time due to what looked like a pretty bad ankle injury. For now though, Chicago can take a breather as it waits to see who will emerge victorious from the series between Calgary and Anaheim.

For a playoff overview and all tonight’s biggest stories, click here.