2015 Western Conference Finals Game 5 Recap
By: Nick Lanciani
45 seconds into overtime was all it took for Matt Beleskey and the Anaheim Ducks to beat the Chicago Blackhawks 5-4 on Monday night in Game 5 at the Honda Center. For the third time in the 2015 Western Conference Finals, overtime was necessary, but unlike the last two times in overtime, the Ducks won. Frederik Andersen, despite a shaky effort, made 24 saves on 28 shots against en route to the win, while Corey Crawford made 23 saves on 28 shots against in the loss.
After an impressive Game 4 effort by both teams, Game 5 began with complete domination by the Anaheim Ducks. It seemed as though Chicago Blackhawks goaltender, Corey Crawford, and the rest of the team had forgotten about the start time of Game 5, as the Ducks quickly amassed a 3-0 lead by the end of the first period.
Two goals in a span of 32 seconds from Cam Fowler and Ryan Kesler quickly gave the Ducks a 2-0 lead before Sami Vatanen tacked on his 3rd of the playoffs at 14:37 of the first period to make it 3-0 Anaheim. The Blackhawks had not even recorded a shot on goal and were down in a 3-0 hole as the Ducks were outshooting them 10-0. At 16:21 Chicago got their first shot on net.
Shots on goal were both a rarity and in abundance. They were a rarity for Chicago during the first period and in abundance for Anaheim in the opening twenty minutes, but then the roles were reversed for the second frame. The Blackhawks quickly rallied back into the thick of it, only 1:11 into the period, making it a 3-1 game on a goal from Teuvo Teravainen, assisted by Antoine Vermette and Patrick Sharp.
Chicago then fired 6 consecutive shots on goal before the Ducks had another shot on goal in the second period, sometime after the halfway mark. Both teams went 0 for 2 on power play opportunities in Game 5 and with 24.8 seconds left in the 2nd period, Brent Seabrook fired a blast past Frederik Andersen, giving Teravainen and Sharp assists on what began a run of soft goals given up by Andersen.
The 3rd period began with a power play for the Chicago Blackhawks at 1:43 of the 3rd, as Clayton Stoner was sent to the box for hooking. Despite numerous chances, the power play unit was unsuccessful as the Ducks killed the penalty and held their ground. Things looked as though the Ducks would escape the third period unscathed for the large part as they began to possess the puck well and controlled the flow of the game.
However, the Blackhawks had begun to outshoot the Ducks, something that had not happened for the entire game until there was roughly fourteen minutes left in the 3rd period. Despite trailing 3-2, it looked like things might revert back to the first period for Chicago and thus out of reach. Ryan Getzlaf sent a pass up ice to Sami Vatanen, who rushed in with Patrick Maroon crashing the net, setting Maroon up with a perfect pass that was deflected behind Crawford for a 4-2 Ducks lead. The goal was Maroon’s 6th of the playoffs.
Ryan Getzlaf had thus set a new franchise record for the Ducks with his assist on Maroon’s goal for most points in a single postseason run in (19). And with a two goal lead a little more than halfway in the third period, things were looking good for Anaheim. In fact, of the final four teams remaining in the playoffs (ANA, CHI, NYR, and TB) the team leading after two periods was 24-1, so the odds were going pretty well for them, before the Ducks pulled off the win (thereby making that stat 25-1 now).
With under 2:30 to go in regulation, Chicago pulled Crawford for an extra skater. At 18:10 of the 3rd period, Jonathan Toews rocketed a wrist shot past Andersen after Marian Hossa and Duncan Keith worked hard to keep the puck in the zone and set up Toews for the goal. A little over a minute later, Toews scored his 2nd of the game and 7th of the playoffs on an impossible angle from behind the goal line. Andersen had given up a rather soft goal earlier in the game, and gave up perhaps the softest goal of the game on Toews’s second goal.
The game was tied, 4-4, and heading for overtime.
In just 45 seconds of overtime, Anaheim put 4 shots on goal, including the game winner. Matt Beleskey scored his 7th of the playoffs on a juicy rebound given up by a diving Crawford from one side of the net to the other, to no avail. Ryan Kesler and Jakob Silfverberg were credited with assists on the game-winning goal.
At the end of the day, the Anaheim Ducks outplayed the Chicago Blackhawks. While goaltending was certainly an issue for both teams, the Ducks were able to overcome given their control of the smaller, but equally important elements, of the game such as faceoff wins (39-26 in favor of ANA) and blocked shots, 21-11. While they’ll need superb goaltending from Frederik Andersen moving forward, especially if they look to move on, they’ll still head to Game 6 with a 3-2 series lead.
Game 6 is on Wednesday night in Chicago at the United Center and can be seen at 8 PM EST on NBCSN.