Playoff Recaps

Kruger Ends Longest Game in Blackhawks History, Series Tied 1-1

2015 Western Conference Finals Game 2 Recap

By: Nick Lanciani

Unknown-2After a 4-1 loss in Game 1, the Chicago Blackhawks made sure they started Game 2 with a bit more intensity- and that they did. After leading 2-0, the Blackhawks almost let the Anaheim Ducks take a 2-0 series lead after Anaheim tied the game in the 2nd period. But it would take three overtimes before Game 2 was settled.

Marcus Kruger scored just his 2nd of the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs, clinching the 3-2 win and tying the 2015 Western Conference Finals series at one game apiece, in what had started as Tuesday night on the East Coast and spilled over to shortly after two in the morning on Wednesday. It was Chicago’s longest game in franchise history, surpassing a 3-2 triple overtime victory over the Montreal Canadiens back on April 9th, 1931.

Corey Crawford, the winning goaltender, made 60 saves on 62 shots against, while Anaheim’s Frederik Andersen made 53 saves on 56 shots. Combined, both teams had 118 shots on goal. Game 3 of the series shifts to the United Center in Chicago on Thursday night.

At 2:14 of the first period, Chicago’s Andrew Shaw, got the Blackhawks on the board on a power play goal assisted by Duncan Keith and Jonathan Toews. About four minutes later, the Blackhawks scored another power play goal, this time on a deflection from Marian Hossa, assisted by Bryan Bickell (who tipped it towards Hossa in the first place) and Brad Richards. It was the first two goal deficit that the Anaheim Ducks faced in the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

As things looked more and more like the game was going to be all Chicago, the Ducks found their way on the scoreboard with a deflection of their own off of the skate of Andrew Cogliano, assisted by Nate Thompson and Cam Fowler. The Honda Center crowd was right back in the thick of things as momentum pulled a 180 and began favoring Anaheim.

By the end of the 1st period, the Blackhawks were outshooting the Ducks 12-7- much like how they outshot the Ducks for the entirety of Game 1- while hits were 24-15 in favor of Anaheim, and faceoff wins were 12-9 in favor of Chicago.

The 2nd period saw the familiar domination we’ve come to expect from the Anaheim Ducks in the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Anaheim played a more physical game than the Blackhawks in Game 1 and continued to play a more physical game in Game 2, leading 35-23 in hits at the end of forty minutes of play.

UnknownCorey Perry scored his 8th goal of the playoffs on what was yet another deflection on the night and tied the game 2-2 for the Ducks. Perry’s goal was assisted by Ryan Getzlaf and Sami Vatanen.

In total, three penalties were called in the 2nd period (one more than the 1st period), as the period came to a close with some 4 on 4 action. For the first time in the series, Anaheim led Chicago 26-19 in shots on goal. Both teams were 24-24 in faceoff wins at the end of two periods.

The third period saw some action, but neither team was able to score, sending the game into overtime. The first overtime witnessed some great chances early on from both the Ducks on Corey Crawford and the Blackhawks on Frederik Andersen, however fatigue soon set in around the ten-minute mark and both teams lost the rhythm of the game. Ducks fans, however were still loud and thumping as the clock struck midnight on the East Coast (alas, it was only 9:00 PM PT).

Anaheim couldn’t capitalize on a great opportunity when Crawford was down and a bit too far out of the crease- Simon Despres just couldn’t settle the puck enough on a backhand, empty net, opportunity. Andersen had 8 saves in the first overtime, while Crawford had 9 saves in the same time span. The shots on goal total at the end of the first overtime were 43-36 in favor of Anaheim. The Blackhawks continued to trail in hits, 58-38, and faceoff wins, 44-35.

Andrew Shaw thought he had scored about midway in double overtime, but the goal was waved off after review determined that he had head-butted the puck into the net- resulting in a direct, umm, heading motion that was not controlled by his stick, nor unintentional, hence it was an illegal goal. The second overtime then saw even more fatigue (although the fans were still loud and chanting “Let’s Go Ducks!”) and an ever increasingly tired writer, so I’m just going to skip to the third overtime, if you don’t mind.

Victor Decolongon/Getty Images

At 16:12 of triple overtime, Marcus Kruger scored on a bit of a floppy play and subsequently celebrated with the rest of the Chicago Blackhawks after winning the longest game in franchise history. In all, Anaheim led the night in hits with 71 compared to Chicago’s 45, faceoff wins (59-53), and blocked shots (35-29). For the second game in a row, the team that had fewer shots on goal won the game.

Blackhawks defenseman, Duncan Keith, led time on ice totals for the night, spending nearly fifty minutes (49:51 to be exact) skating around. Kruger’s game winning goal was assisted by Brent Seabrook and Johnny Oduya.

It is assumed that after some much needed rest, neither team will really feel up to practicing much before Game 3, understandably. Likewise, for the disappointed Anaheim fans that went home unsatisfied and beaten for the first time on home ice in the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs, a day off from work sounds pretty good right about now.

Statistically speaking, the team that wins Game 3 in any series is more likely to go on and win the entire series, so Ducks fans should be able to take comfort in knowing that it’s only a 1-1 series currently and there’s always Thursday night in Chicago to take back control. Likewise for the Blackhawks that means they’ll be looking to ride the momentum of this epic win.

Game 3 can be caught on NBCSN at 8 PM EST on Thursday, May 21st, 2015 live from the United Center in Chicago.

By Nick Lanciani

10 years experience working various roles in sports, plus I like to paint in my spare time. Maybe I'll go to grad school next. Anyway, I write stuff on Down the Frozen River, make/appear on podcasts, used to write stuff for Couch Guy Sports and apply to full-time jobs for a living.