2015 Western Conference Finals Game 7 Recap
By: Nick Lanciani
Jonathan Toews and the Chicago Blackhawks proved once again, exactly why they are Jonathan Toews and the Chicago Blackhawks, defeating the Anaheim Ducks, 5-3, on Saturday night in Game 7 of the 2015 Western Conference Finals. The Blackhawks are the 2015 Western Conference Champions and will face the Tampa Bay Lightning in the 2015 Stanley Cup Finals.
Toews had a two-goal night and became the first player in NHL history to score two goals in a Game 5 and Game 7 on the road in one series. Corey Crawford made 35 saves on 38 shots against en route to securing the win, while Frederik Andersen made 21 saves on 26 shots on goal in the Ducks loss.
The Chicago Blackhawks got off to a quick start in Game 7 with Toews scoring his first goal of the game at 2:23 of the period. Patrick Kane made a quick pass to Niklas Hjalmarsson, who shot it from the point, generating a rebound opportunity that Toews cashed in on for the 1-0 lead. The team that scored first in each game won every game of this series.
About halfway into the 1st period, things were still looking pretty good for Anaheim, despite trailing 1-0. Shots on goal were tied 4-4 and both teams had plenty of chances at each end. At 11:08, Jakob Silfverberg was penalized for hooking Brandon Saad- negating an excellent scoring opportunity for Saad, something that would become a theme throughout the night.
Nearly 50 seconds into the power play, Chicago’s Jonathan Toews, was at it again, this time on a great shot from the slot with help from Brad Richards and Duncan Keith. The goal was Toews’s second of the night and 9th of the playoffs. The Blackhawks suddenly had a staggering 2-0 lead a little over halfway into the 1st period.
Heading into the 2nd period, the Ducks knew they had to do better if they wanted to remain relevant in the game. Yet 1:18 into the period, Brandon Saad found a rebound and sent it straight to the twine for a 3-0 Blackhawks lead. Saad’s 6th of the playoffs was assisted by Patrick Kane and Johnny Oduya.
Kane shortly had a breakaway soon after Saad’s goal, but was denied by Andersen. It was Frederik Andersen’s 7th save on 10 shots on goal with about 14 minutes remaining in the 2nd period and was a boost of confidence for the otherwise struggling Anaheim goaltender and his teammates.
But then Marian Hossa deflected the puck with his skate in what appeared to be a kicking motion, but was called a goal on the ice and confirmed by video review, for a 4-0 lead for Chicago. This year’s new interpretation of a “distinct kicking motion” favored Hossa’s redirection as an apparent intentional positioning of his leg, but not a full fledging- follow through inclusive- kick.
At 17:55 of the 2nd period, Marcus Kruger tripped Tomas Fleischmann (in for the scratched Emerson Etem) and gave Anaheim a short lived power play. Almost a minute later, Sami Vatanen denied Brandon Saad proper entry on a breakaway by tying him up with a hook, resulting in a penalty, and 4 on 4 hockey. Anaheim was outshooting Chicago 26-15 when the call was made, despite still trailing 4-0 on the scoreboard.
On the ensuing 4 on 4 play, Ryan Kesler got the Ducks on the scoreboard with his 7th of the playoffs, assisted by Jakob Silfverberg and Francois Beauchemin. Duncan Keith was subsequently stoned cold by Andersen on a breakaway for the Blackhawks with 35 seconds left in the period. Kesler would hear his name come up again, before the period ended, when he was called for slashing Saad.
The Ducks killed off a 5 on 3 power play for the Blackhawks early in the 3rd period. With 9:28 to go in the game, Anaheim was outshooting Chicago 31-22 and desperately trying to get anything and everything on goal. Corey Perry notched his 10th of the playoffs at 11:36 of the 3rd period with help from Patrick Maroon and Ryan Getzlaf. Perry’s goal brought the Ducks to within two, but it wasn’t a 4-2 game for long.
Cam Fowler was called for hooking at 12:49 of the period, giving the Blackhawks their fourth power play of the night. Brent Seabrook capitalized on the man advantage with a rocket from the point and made it a 5-2 hockey game at 13:23 of the 3rd period.
Seabrook’s 6th of the playoffs was assisted by Kane and Keith and all but put the game officially out of reach for an Anaheim comeback. In fact, for nearly four minutes after Seabrook’s goal, the Ducks couldn’t record a shot on goal.
With 3:15 left in the game, the Chicago Blackhawks called a timeout while the Anaheim Ducks pulled their goalie. The resulting 6 on 5 play quickly became a 6 on 4 advantage for Anaheim, as Oduya was sent to the box for sending the puck out of play, resulting in a delay of game penalty at 18:58 of the 3rd.
On just their 2nd power play opportunity of the night, Matt Beleskey cashed in for the Ducks. The pending free agent scored his 8th of the playoffs with help from Cam Fowler and Hampus Lindholm, making it a 5-3 game.
But it was too little too late. Despite a late rally and 38 shots on goal in the game, the Anaheim Ducks couldn’t come up with the Game 7 win at home. Just as the Tampa Bay Lightning defeated the New York Rangers on road ice to advance to this year’s Stanley Cup Finals, the Chicago Blackhawks advanced in enemy territory.
Whereas Anaheim outshot Chicago 38-26 and outhit the Blackhawks 37-15, the Ducks were no match in other aspects of the game. A stronger faceoff presence by Anaheim than in Game 6 kept faceoff wins at 32-32 for both teams, but the Blackhawks led blocked shots for once, 15-14, and took advantage of 2 of their 4 power play’s on the night.
The brash Ducks couldn’t stand against the well versed and experienced Blackhawks. Chicago made the Honda Center their own, as if that wasn’t already apparent enough in the fact that many Blackhawks fans were in attendance and cheering loudly as their team won 5-3 on Saturday night.
Chicago is making their 3rd Stanley Cup Finals appearance in six years. They won the Cup back in 2010 and in 2013 and are set to take on the Tampa Bay Lightning and their league leading offense. Tampa is making just their 2nd Stanley Cup Finals appearance in franchise history, having won the Cup back in 2004.
Game 1 of the 2015 Stanley Cup Finals will be Wednesday, June 3rd, at Amalie Arena in Tampa, Florida. Puck drop is scheduled for 8 PM EST and coverage in the United States will be on NBC for games 1 and 2. Games 3 and 4 will air on NBCSN. If necessary, Game 5, 6, and/or 7 will be announced at a later time.