Tag Archives: 2015 Western Conference Finals

Stanley Cup Playoffs: Conference Finals– May 18

Anaheim Ducks at Nashville Predators– Game 4

Corey Perry and the Anaheim Ducks bursted the Nashville Predators undefeated at Bridgestone Arena this postseason bubble with a 3-2 victory in overtime in Game 4 of the 2017 Western Conference Finals.

In short, the series is now a best-of-three scenario as it is now tied, 2-2, heading back to Honda Center in Anaheim for Game 5.

Ducks goaltender, John Gibson made 32 saves on 34 shots against for a .941 save percentage in the win, while Predators goalie, Pekka Rinne stopped 34 out of 37 shots faced for a .919 SV% in the loss.

Rickard Rakell (7) opened the game’s scoring on a slap shot from outside the slot and just over the blue line after catching the Predators in the midst of a line change to give the Ducks a 1-0 lead. Cam Fowler (7) had the sole assist on Rakell’s goal.

After 20 minutes of play, Anaheim led 1-0 on the scoreboard and held Nashville to just two shots on goal in the 1st period. As a result, the Ducks set a franchise record for fewest shots against in a playoff period (2). The previous record was three back in the 1st period of Game 5 of the 2015 Western Conference Finals against the Chicago Blackhawks.

Both Nashville and Anaheim went 0/1 on the power play entering the first intermission.

The Ducks extended their lead to two goals when Nick Ritchie (4) used Roman Josi as a screen against Rinne, then toe dragged the puck out of Josi’s reach to snipe a wrist shot top shelf on the glove side. Nate Thompson (4) and Sami Vatanen (3) were credited with the primary and secondary assists on the goal that made it 2-0 Anaheim.

Officials put away the whistles for the 2nd period, as no penalties were called, which would only provide for more scrutiny later in the game when several calls were made against the Ducks and a non-call that probably should’ve been a penalty against the Predators indirectly led to the game tying goal in the final minute of regulation.

After Nashville had an abysmal two shots on goal (compared to Anaheim’s 14 SOG) in the 1st period, the Predators picked up their offensive efforts in the 2nd period, outshooting the Ducks 18-12. Anaheim still led in total shots on goal, though, 26-20 after 40 minutes of play.

Trailing 2-0 at the start of the 3rd period, the Nashville Predators remained calm, as they had been there before this postseason, having trailed by the same score to the Blackhawks in the First Round before coming back and winning in regulation.

Anaheim could not convert on their final power play opportunity of the night about a quarter of the way into the 3rd period.

After being given two power play opportunities of their own about midway through the 3rd, the Predators had no luck on the man advantage, but had begun racking up the minutes of offensive zone time.

P.K. Subban (2) received a pass from Colin Wilson (2) and fired home a slap shot to cut the lead in half and make it a 2-1 game at 13:33 of the 3rd period. The already rambunctious fans in attendance at Bridgestone Arena only became louder as the Predators begun to smell a possible comeback. Viktor Arvidsson (7) had the secondary assist on Subban’s 2nd goal of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Kevin Bieksa’s high sticking infraction was quickly followed up by Anaheim’s Josh Manson’s slashing minor penalty, resulting in a 5-on-3 advantage for 1:31 with 4:38 remaining in regulation for the Preds.

Anaheim’s penalty killing unit was successful at killing off both minor penalties before Nashville could tie the game.

With less than a minute in regulation, the Predators won an offensive zone face-off and fired a barrage of shots at Gibson.

Ryan Johansen appeared to get away with a cross check to the back of one of Anaheim’s skaters, before contributing on what would end up setting up the final goal of regulation

Filip Forsberg (7) tied the game, 2-2, with his followup in front of the goal, beating Gibson to the puck before he could freeze it. Arvidsson (8) and James Neal (2) collected the helpers on the game tying goal with 34.5 seconds to go in the 3rd period.

Forsberg now has four goals in four games thus far in the series.

Nashville was mounting a comeback riding the momentum of the final 13 and a half minutes of regulation. Shots on goal were even at 31-31 after 60 minutes of play. Nashville led in blocked shots 18-15 and in giveaways 10-9, while Anaheim led in hits 28-27 and takeaways 9-6 heading into the overtime intermission.

Game 4 became just the 26th playoff game of the 2017 postseason to require overtime (two games shy of the record— 28 overtime games— set in 1993).

A little past halfway into the overtime period, Perry (4) fired a shot in the direction of the goal as a hard charging teammate, Thompson, was crashing the goal. Instead of setting up a one-timer, the puck deflected off of Nashville defenseman Subban’s stick and past Rinne to secure the 3-2 victory for the Ducks.

Perry’s game winning goal was unassisted at 10:25 of overtime and tied the series 2-2.

Anaheim finished the game leading in shots on goal 37-34, blocked shots 20-19 and giveaways 12-10, while both teams were even in hits 30-30. Neither team scored a power play goal on Thursday night, as Nashville went 0/5 on the man advantage and Anaheim went 0/2.

Puck drop for Game 5 at Honda Center back in Anaheim is scheduled for a little after 7:15 p.m. ET on Saturday night. Viewers looking to watch the game in the United States can tune to NBC, while Canadian fans can catch the game on CBC and/or TVA Sports.

Stanley Cup Playoffs: Second Round– May 10

For the first and second rounds of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs, the authors at Down the Frozen River present a rapid recap of all of the night’s action. Tonight’s featured writers are Connor Keith and Nick Lanciani.

Pittsburgh Penguins at Washington Capitals– Game 7

By: Connor Keith

With a two-goal shutout over Washington at the Verizon Center, the Penguins have advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals for the second year in a row.

If statistics told the whole story (they don’t, much to my chagrin), the first period was only an appetizer of what to expect in the remainder of the first Game 7 of the night. Both teams committed one penalty, both penalty kills rose to the task. Pittsburgh blocked four shots, Washington three. The Penguins stole the puck four times and committed three giveaways, the Capitals made three steals and only two giveaways. Pittsburgh fired 10 shots on net, Washington nine – and all were saved by either First Star of the Game Marc-Andre Fleury or Third Star Braden Holtby.

Things were still looking that way until the 8:49 mark of the second period when Second Star Bryan Rust (Jake Guentzel and Sidney Crosby) drew first blood. The play started when Ian Cole intercepted Matt Niskanen’s attempted clear at the far point to keep the puck from crossing the blue line. In the same motion he passed to his captain in the center of the offensive zone, who dished to Guentzel en route to the near side of the slot. Instead of firing on Holtby’s net, he slid a centering pass to his right wing that was more than capable of banging home a wrist shot top-shelf for what proved to be the game-winning goal.

Once the scoreless draw was broken, the pressure was on Fleury for the remaining 31:11 of the game. As he’s proved so many other times this postseason, he was up to the task only a year removed from being relegated to the bench during the Penguins’ Stanley Cup run. In total, he saved all 29 shots he faced for his first shutout of the 2017 postseason. Included within those attempts was a flurry of action late in the second period.

To start, Alex Ovechkin had a beautiful look at leveling the game at one-all from his usual spot in the left face-off circle with 3:53remaining in the frame, but Fleury managed to get his stick and blocker between Ovechkin’s wrister and the back of his net at the last second to prevent the score from changing.

Fleury’s strong play continued 1:29 later when he fought off three separate shots in a wild scrum in his crease, but he was truly confirmed it was his day when Nicklas Backstrom’s offering from along the goal line with 73 seconds remaining before the second intermission not only bounced off his right skate, but also off the far post and out of harm’s way.

If the Pens have learned anything in these playoffs, it’s that sometimes the best defense is a good offense. In the opening five minutes of the third period, Pittsburgh outshot the Capitals seven-to-one. That attack found its reward 4:14 into the frame when Patric Hornqvist (Justin Schultz) sneaked a wrister between Nate Schmidt’s legs and over Holtby’s glove to set the score at 2-0.

While only an insurance goal, it seemed to be the straw that broke the camel’s back for the Verizon Center crowd. The crowds’ mood significantly soured following Hornqvist’s marker as it realized the Capitals would fall for the ninth time in 10 matchups against Pittsburgh in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Pittsburgh will host the Senators for Games 1 and 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals at PPG Paints Arena. That series is scheduled to start on Saturday at 7 p.m. Eastern time. The contest will be televised on NBC in the USA and CBC, Sportsnet and TVA Sports in Canada.

Edmonton Oilers at Anaheim Ducks– Game 7

By: Nick Lanciani

Entering Wednesday night, the Anaheim Ducks had lost four consecutive Game 7s at Honda Center. Entering Thursday morning, they’re moving on to the 2017 Western Conference Finals after defeating the Edmonton Oilers 2-1 on home ice thanks to Nick Ritchie’s early 3rd period game winning goal.

Ducks goalie, John Gibson made 23 saves on 24 shots against in just his 2nd career Game 7 appearance for a .958 save percentage en route to the win, while Edmonton goaltender, Cam Talbot made his first Game 7 appearance, stopping 28 saves on 30 shots faced for a .933 SV% in the loss.

For just the fourth time in franchise history, Anaheim will contend for a spot in the Stanley Cup Final, having appeared in the Western Conference Finals in 2003, 2007 and 2015 before advancing to the 2017 edition of the Western Conference Finals against the Nashville Predators. 

Drake Caggiula (3) kicked off scoring in Game 7 with his unassisted redirection that beat Gibson just 3:31 into the 1st period to give the Oilers a 1-0 lead.

Despite trailing 1-0 after 20 minutes of play, the Ducks were not ready to fold on home ice in yet another Game 7.

Andrew Cogliano (1) tied the game, 1-1, on a backhand shot that slid past a sprawling Cam Talbot after a series of desperation saves almost midway through the 2nd period. Cogliano’s first goal of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs was assisted by Ryan Kesler (6) and Brandon Montour (5) at 8:55 of the 2nd.

With a close battle carrying over into the 3rd period, the Ducks came out flying early in effort to combat the younger, faster skating Edmonton offense that had pestered teams all season long by playing a game that only got better as the minutes passed.

After swapping scoring chances, Anaheim had strong attacking zone possession, firing pucks on Talbot, generating rebounds and odd caroms off the boards behind the goal.

Ritchie (2) collected a loose puck and fired a blocker side shot that clipped Talbot underneath the shoulder and fluttered into the twine to give the Ducks their first lead of the night. Sami Vatanen (1) and Corey Perry (7) collected the helpers on Ritchie’s goal, which made it 2-1 Anaheim, just 3:21 into the 3rd period.

Despite a late surge by the Oilers around two minutes to go in regulation, the Ducks held off on all of Edmonton’s advances with the Oilers having pulled Talbot for an extra skater.

As time expired, Anaheim head coach, Randy Carlyle improved to 2-2 in four career Game 7 appearances, while Edmonton head coach, Todd McLellan fell to 1-3 overall in Game 7s.

With Wednesday night’s 2-1 win, Anaheim has only allowed one goal in their three Game 7 victories in franchise history, having previously defeated Phoenix 3-0 in the 1997 Western Conference Quarterfinals and Calgary 3-0 in the 2006 Western Conference Quarterfinals.

Anaheim plays host to the Nashville on Friday night at Honda Center for Game 1 of the 2017 Western Conference Finals. Puck drop is scheduled for a little after 9 p.m. ET and viewers in the United States can watch the game on NBCSN, while Canadians can tune to CBC or TVA Sports for coverage.

The Ducks lost to the Chicago Blackhawks in their most recent trip to the Western Conference Finals (2015) but advanced to the Stanley Cup Final in both 2003 and 2007. 

The Predators will make their Western Conference Finals debut for the first time in franchise history.

Triplets Dominate, Bolts Even Series in Game 2

2015 Stanley Cup Final Game 2 Recap

By: Nick Lanciani

Unknown-1Everyone chipped in en route to the Tampa Bay Lightning’s 4-3 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 2 of the 2015 Stanley Cup Final, so it seems.

Despite Tampa’s harsh ticket policy, Amalie Arena had a noticeably red hue contrasting all the Lightning diehards in blue, but it was the home fans that went home happily assured of a victory in the Stanley Cup Final that evened the series 1-1 and ensures at least one more game at home.

Jason Garrison’s game winning power play goal at 8:49 of the 3rd period proved to be enough to give Andrei Vasilevskiy his first career playoff win. That’s right; Vasilevskiy was the winning goaltender from Saturday night. Tampa’s Ben Bishop was in and out of the action briefly in the 3rd period, ultimately being unable to return, leading many to wonder if he had simply needed a bathroom break. Head coach, Jon Cooper, confirmed after the game that the need for a restroom was not the case and wouldn’t delve further into the situation.

Vasilevskiy made 5 saves on 5 shots on goal in 9:13 time on ice, while Bishop made 21 saves in 24 shots against in 50:33 playing time. Chicago’s Corey Crawford made 20 saves on 24 shots against in the loss.

Photo by Scott Iskowitz/Getty Images
Photo by Scott Iskowitz/Getty Images

Cooper inserted the youthful Jonathan Drouin into the Lightning’s lineup for the first time since Game 4 against Montreal in Round 2 of the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs. With Drouin in, Nikita Nesterov became a healthy scratch.

The 1st period began with a frantic pace and high tempo hockey. The Lightning swapped opportunity for opportunity with the Blackhawks but remained scoreless in the first ten minutes of the game.

At 12:56, Cedric Paquette finally broke the ice and scored the games first goal. Paquette’s 2nd goal of the playoffs was assisted by Ryan Callahan and Victor Hedman.

Hedman went on to have a superb rest of the game, while Callahan continued to be a playmaker the rest of the night. A little after the eighteen minute mark of the opening frame, Blackhawks defenseman, Johnny Oduya took a minor penalty for tripping. The Lightning were unable to capitalize on the ensuing power play opportunity.

Shots on goal were relatively even heading into the first intermission with Tampa holding a slight advantage, 12-11.

Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

A string of events sent the game into frenzy early into the 2nd period. First, Andrew Shaw netted his 5th of the playoffs with help from Marcus Kruger and Andrew Desjardins at 3:04 of the 2nd period.

About a minute later Tampa forward, Alex Killorn, was called for hooking former Lightning star, Brad Richards, giving Chicago their first power play opportunity of the night.

Teuvo Teravainen quickly made Killorn and the Lightning pay for their undisciplined effort and pocketed a power play goal at 5:20 of the 2nd period. Marian Hossa and Patrick Sharp set up Teravainen’s 4th goal of the playoffs and gave the Blackhawks their first lead of the night.

It wasn’t 2-1 Chicago for very long, however.

Nikita Kucherov tied things up at two goals apiece with his 10th goal of the 2015 playoffs at 6:52 of the period with help from Jason Garrison and Braydon Coburn. Both teams were shooting the lights out of Amalie Arena in the first half of the 2nd period, compared to the first 20 minutes of the game. Tampa was leading shots on goal 18-15 by the midpoint of the period, just after Coburn took a penalty for holding.

For once, however, things cooled off in the 2nd period. Chicago wasn’t able to score on the power play and for a few minutes both teams settled in.

Photo by Scott Audette/NHLI via Getty Images
Photo by Scott Audette/NHLI via Getty Images

At 13:58 of the 2nd period, Tyler Johnson scored his first goal since Game 3 of the 2015 Eastern Conference Finals against the New York Rangers.

Johnson’s 13th goal of the playoffs set a franchise record for the Lightning for the most goals in a single postseason. Kucherov was once again on the scoresheet with the lone assist on the goal.

Tampa was leading 3-2 heading into the 2nd intermission and led shots on goal, 22-19, and hits, 28-18. Chicago was dominating faceoff wins, 23-14, and blocked shots, 9-6.

The 3rd period began with a quick surge for Chicago. A little over three and a half minutes into the period, Brent Seabrook blasted one past Bishop for his 7th of the playoffs. Jonathan Toews and Johnny Oduya picked up the assists on Seabrook’s tying goal, but the game wouldn’t remain knotted at 3-3 for too long.

Unknown-2It had appeared as though Antoine Vermette might have interfered with Lightning goaltender, Ben Bishop, however the contact was ruled as incidental and the goal was confirmed.

Bishop appeared fine, but may have suffered some sort of an injury on the play that bugged him for the remainder of the period. Either that, or he had pulled something on a save earlier in the game. Whatever it was, ultimately forced him out of the game. Bishop was replaced by twenty year-old backup, Andrei Vasilevskiy, with less than eight minutes to go in regulation.

Patrick Sharp took a couple of penalties in a row, one at 4:59 of the period for slashing and another at 7:17 for high sticking.

It was on the latter power play opportunity that Tampa exploited the man advantage with a power play goal from Jason Garrison at 8:49 of the 3rd period. Garrison’s goal was his 2nd of the playoffs and was assisted by Hedman and Callahan. Shots on goal were even at 24 shots apiece.

Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Lightning fans were unmoved at the threat of whatever was plaguing Bishop, but certainly had their share of a heart attack when Andrej Sustr sent the puck straight out of play and thus received a delay of game penalty with under seven minutes to go in regulation.

But the Bolts defended their one goal lead and held the Blackhawks to one shot on goal on Chicago’s power play. With about two minutes left in the game, Corey Crawford vacated his goal for an extra attacker as the Blackhawks looked to tie the game.

Toews, who had nearly stunned the Honda Center in Game 5 of the 2015 Western Conference Finals after scoring two late third period goals to force the Anaheim Ducks into overtime- only to lose anyway 45 seconds into overtime- was prowling to do nearly the same thing to the Lightning.

His chance was denied by Vasilevskiy and the Blackhawks ran out of time. Tampa had won the game 4-3 in regulation.

The Blackhawks finished the game with 29 shots on goal compared to the Lightning’s 24 shots on goal. Chicago also dominated faceoff wins, 35-19, and topped off blocked shots, 12-9. Tampa led in hits, 33-28. Both teams finished the night 1 for 3 on the power play.

The Lightning improved to 6-1 when leading after the 1st period in the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Vasilevskiy made a mark on the history books earning his first career playoff win in just his 3rd appearance, while making the fewest saves made (5) in a Stanley Cup Final game, en route to winning, since shots on goal became an official stat in 1967.

Vasilevskiy also became the first goalie since 1928, to win a Stanley Cup Final game in a relief appearance.

Both games this year in the 2015 Stanley Cup Final have been comeback wins. In 2004, the Tampa Bay Lightning lost Game 1 to the Calgary Flames, but won Game 2 and went on to win the Cup in seven games. And since 2004, only one other series has been tied 1-1 (the 2013 Stanley Cup Final between the Boston Bruins and the Chicago Blackhawks).

This will be the 16th straight Stanley Cup Final to not be swept by either team. The last team to sweep in the Final was the 1998 Detroit Red Wings, who defeated the Washington Capitals in four games to repeat as Stanley Cup champions. Detroit was also the last team to repeat as champions having won in 1997 and 1998.

Game 3 of the 2015 Stanley Cup Final will be Monday night at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois. Puck drop is scheduled for 8 PM EST with coverage on NBC in the United States and CBC in Canada.

Down the Frozen River Podcast #4 2015 Stanley Cup Finals Preview

Host, Nick Lanciani, and fellow Down the Frozen River analyst, Colby Kephart, set the stage for the 2015 Stanley Cup Finals between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Chicago Blackhawks. Coaching changes are also briefly mentioned and analyzed.

Join the conversation, make a suggestion, or ask a question for our next podcast using #AskDownTheFrozenRiver on Twitter- your thoughts might make it on our show!

Photo by Jared Silber/NHLI via Getty Images
Photo by Jared Silber/NHLI via Getty Images
Getty Images
Getty Images

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Toews, Blackhawks, 2015 Western Conference Champion

2015 Western Conference Finals Game 7 Recap

By: Nick Lanciani

Getty Images
Getty Images

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.

Unknown-2About 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.

UnknownOn 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.

Photo by Harry How/Getty Images
Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

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.

Photo by Harry How/Getty Images
Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

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.

Bishop, Lightning, 2015 Eastern Conference Champions

2015 Eastern Conference Finals Game 7 Recap

By: Colby Kephart

Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

A Game 7 with emotions running high resulted with the Tampa Bay Lightning beating the New York Rangers 2-0. Alex Killorn scored the first of Tampa’s two 3rd period goals (his 7th of the playoffs), while the second came late in the period from Ondrej Palat.

Ben Bishop recorded his second shutout at Madison Square Garden in this series, stopping all 22 shots faced on Friday night. He also became the third goalie in NHL history to post two Game 7 shutouts in the same postseason, joining Patrick Roy (2002) and Tim Thomas (2011).

A high tempo, high energy, first period saw end-to-end action that ended scoreless. Both teams had their adrenaline pumping as the game experienced craziness with the fans screaming their heads off- right in tune with the game. The New York Rangers took a page out of Tampa’s book as they dressed 11 forwards and 7 defenseman (or so everyone thought).

Rangers captain, Ryan McDonagh, was experiencing some issues and had actually gone back to the locker room before the game began. McDonagh returned shortly into the 1st period. It was later revealed that he was playing with a broken foot for the last few games. The captain was usually carrying a heavy load on the blueline for the Rangers, but finished with a measly 3 shifts and 1:47 of ice time in Game 7.

Unknown-1Bishop and Henrik Lundqvist looked prepared for this big game, as they kept shot after shot out of their net. New York had a few quality scoring chances, despite having 5 shots on goal. The Lightning had more chances with 9 shots on goal. One opportunity forced a big save by Lundqvist as the shot deflected off of a New York stick, off Lundqvist’s glove, and over the net.

The goaltender battle continued during the second period as Tampa started with quick chances. Ryan Callahan gathered the puck on a rebound and threw it towards the net, but Lundqvist got his pad on it. The Lightning became undisciplined and unwound for a short period of time when Brenden Morrow took a questionable call for hooking at 3:41 of the 2nd period.

Ryan McDonagh got some time on the power play and generated a chance for his team off his hard shot, but Bishop was there to make the save and Tampa quickly cleared it towards the corner.

Tampa found themselves shorthanded again about four minutes later with a bench minor for too many men on the ice at 7:46 of the 2nd period. The Lightning’s penalty kill unit proved their worth and only allowed a few chances, including one from Keith Yandle as he skated down from the point and received a backdoor pass, but shot the puck wide of the net.

New York Rangers LogoThe last 5 minutes of the period saw both teams generating multiple chances as the action went all over the rink. The Lightning established the zone, giving Ondrej Palat and Nikita Kucherov chances that Lundqvist could only shoulder away. Jason Garrison also had a great chance at 16:04, when he received a backdoor pass, only to be denied, once more, by Lundqvist.

McDonagh continued to get more minutes as he battled through playing with a broken foot. He had a little over ten minutes of ice time by the end of forty minutes of play, adding almost 9 full minutes in the period. At the end of two, the Lightning outshot the Rangers 19-11. Both teams were throwing their weight around pretty equally with New York slightly outhitting Tampa 22-21. Faceoff wins were one sided in favor of the Rangers 26-14.

The third period saw a fast start for the Tampa Bay Lightning, who scored 1:54 into the 3rd period. Alex Killorn snuck his backhand, five hole, between the pads of Lundqvist as the puck trickled across the line. The Rangers tried to answer by throwing pucks towards the net and hoping for rebounds, yet Ben Bishop remained strong with great rebound control and denied second and third chances. He finally gave up a few chances at the halfway point when a mad scramble ensued, but managed to freeze the puck.

Photo by Elsa/Getty Images
Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

Tampa managed to double their lead at 11:17 of the period when a wrist shot from Ondrej Palat beat Lundqvist top shelf. Palat’s goal was assisted by Tyler Johnson and Ben Bishop. Momentum began swinging out of New York’s favor as the reality of being down 2-0 in Game 7 with not much time remaining- potentially in their season- set in.

Ben Bishop made numerous saves, stopping everything thrown at him. New York was forced to pull Lundqvist with 3:44 remaining in the game for an extra attacker. Bishop, once again, remained strong and withheld the Rangers from a goal on the scoreboard.

Henrik Lundqvist in what became his final game of the season, brushed aside 23 of the 25 total shots on goal by the Lightning. Both teams shook hands with ease and tradition, as is long established in sportsmanship, after the long seven game battle for the Eastern Conference championship. Former Rangers captain, Ryan Callahan, shook hands with the man who he was traded for, Martin St. Louis, with Callahan moving on and St. Louis, for the second year in a row with the Rangers, failing to capture one more Cup.

The Tampa Bay Lightning are moving on to the Stanley Cup Finals for their second time in franchise history. The last time Tampa made the Stanley Cup Finals, in 2004, they won the Cup. The Stanley Cup Finals start June 3rd at 8 PM with national broadcast information to be released soon. The Lightning will face the winner of Saturday night’s Western Conference Finals Game 7 between the Anaheim Ducks and the Chicago Blackhawks.

Blackhawks Win 5-2, Force Game 7 in Anaheim

2015 Western Conference Finals Game 6 Recap

By: Nick Lanciani

Unknown-2In front of 22,089 fans at the United Center on Wednesday night, the Chicago Blackhawks were able to stave off elimination and force a Game 7 on Saturday night in Anaheim with a 5-2 victory over the Anaheim Ducks. Patrick Kane’s 10th goal of the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs was the game winning goal in the Blackhawks winning effort as Corey Crawford made 30 saves on 32 shots against to pick up the win.

Anaheim’s, Frederik Andersen, made 18 saves on 22 shots faced in the loss. Chicago’s Andrew Shaw and Duncan Keith had impressive efforts as well, with Shaw scoring two goals and Keith earning three assists on the night.

A scoreless first period ended with 10 shots on goal for Anaheim and 6 shots on goal for Chicago. The Blackhawks also dominated faceoff wins 15-4, while the Ducks led hits 18-15 and blocked shots 13-5. Both teams went 0/1 on the power play as Anaheim couldn’t capitalize on a too many men bench minor against the Blackhawks, 1:59 into the period, and Chicago couldn’t score on their power play opportunity as a result of Corey Perry’s hooking penalty at 7:06 of the 1st period.

At 8:23 of the 2nd period Brandon Saad raced down the ice on a breakaway and landed a shot past Andersen and into the back of the net for a 1-0 Blackhawks lead. The goal was Saad’s 5th of the playoffs and was assisted by Patrick Kane and Duncan Keith. A little over two minutes later, Chicago went ahead 2-0 on a goal from Marian Hossa with help from Keith and Brad Richards. Finally, at 12:08 of the 2nd period, Kane picked up his 10th goal of the postseason with Keith earning his 3rd assist of the night, cementing a 3-0 Blackhawks lead a little past halfway into the period.

UnknownBrad Richards took a hooking penalty at 14:08 of the 2nd period, resulting in a Ducks power play. Anaheim stopped some of the bleeding with a power play goal from Patrick Maroon via crafty work by Cam Fowler and Sami Vatanen. For now, at least, the score was 3-1 and the Ducks successfully displayed a sign of life. Ryan Kesler gave Chicago their third and final power play opportunity of the night after tripping goaltender, Corey Crawford, setting the standard for a little more contact with both goalies in the 3rd period.

Shots on goal were deadlocked at 19-19 and hits were tied, 30-30, by the second intermission. Anaheim led blocked shots 18-8 and were 1 for 2 on the power play, while Chicago continued to dominate faceoff wins, 29-11, and were 0 for 3 on the man advantage.

Andrew Shaw celebrates one of his third period goals in Game 6 of the 2015 Western Conference Finals in Chicago. Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Andrew Shaw celebrates one of his third period goals in Game 6 of the 2015 Western Conference Finals in Chicago. Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The 3rd period got off to a quick start for the Ducks, showing signs of a potentially thrilling comeback, as Clayton Stoner notched his 1st goal of the playoffs at 1:57 of the period. Nate Thompson and Jakob Silfverberg were credited assists on Stoner’s goal. Silfverberg, in fact, clipped Crawford’s glove as he was skating in front of the net, causing some to argue for goaltender interference, but the fact of the matter was that 1) Silfverberg was well out of the crease 2) knew where Crawford was in relation to where he was heading and 3) Crawford might have stuck his glove hand out to bat Silfverberg away, thus hampering his own chances at being fully able to make a save.

At least, those might have been a few things that crossed the referee’s mind in not making a call and reversing the goal on the ice.

Kesler and Silfverberg’s bumps into the goalie weren’t the only ones in the game. Nearly a minute and a half after Stoner’s goal, Chicago’s Andrew Desjardins was sent to the box for goaltender interference in a clear disregard for the established “don’t touch the goalie” rule after knocking down Frederik Andersen in the crease, perhaps in retaliation for the Ducks called and uncalled run ins with Crawford.

Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images
Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

The pace of the game settled in until there was about three and a half minutes to go, when the intensity really picked up as Anaheim desperately tried for a tying goal. Instead, Desjardins had a quick breakout with Andrew Shaw, who began to put away the hopes of a Ducks comeback in Game 6 with his 3rd goal of the playoffs at 16:28 of the period.

The Blackhawks had amassed 22 shots on goal, seven fewer than the Ducks, and yet had a 4-2 lead and were closer to a Game 7 than the Ducks were to a comeback. It wasn’t long before Anaheim was outshooting Chicago 31-22 and had an offensive zone faceoff with Andersen already pulled and 1:05 remaining in the game.

At 19:11, Shaw put away an empty netter for his 2nd goal of the night, assisted by Desjardins, and gave the Blackhawks a 5-2 lead. The Ducks ended the night with 32 shots on goal and Chicago wrapped up the game with 23 shots on net. Anaheim continued to display a much more physical game, leading in hits, 43-38- although that usually means that the more physical team spent less time with the puck.

Chicago amassed 33 faceoff wins in the game, compared to Anaheim’s 17 faceoff wins, and reduced the differential in blocked shots to 4, with Anaheim leading 23-19. Anaheim finished the night 1 for 3 on the power play, while the Blackhawks were 0 for 3 on the night.

Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images
Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

With the 5-2 win at home, the Chicago Blackhawks tied the series 3-3, sending the Western Conference Finals to a Game 7 on Saturday night at the Honda Center in Anaheim, California.

Puck drop is scheduled for 8 PM on NBC.

The winner will not only be the Western Conference champion, but will have the advantage of knowing who they will face in the 2015 Stanley Cup Finals, as the New York Rangers and Tampa Bay Lightning battle in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Friday night at Madison Square Garden.

This year marks the first time since 2000, that both conference finals have gone all the way to Game 7’s to determine the Stanley Cup Finalists. Fifteen years ago, the New Jersey Devils beat the Philadelphia Flyers to represent the Eastern Conference, while the Dallas Stars topped the Colorado Avalanche to represent the Western Conference.

Beleskey Ends it Early in OT (for once) and the Ducks are 1 Win Away from the Finals

2015 Western Conference Finals Game 5 Recap

By: Nick Lanciani

Unknown45 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.

Unknown-2Chicago 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.

Stephen Dunn/Getty Images
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

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.

Vermette Scores in 2OT to Win it for Chicago, ANA Scores 3 in 37 seconds in 3rd

2015 Western Conference Finals Game 4 Recap

By: Nick Lanciani

Unknown-2A sold out crowd at the United Center was rocking the arena’s foundation to its core on Saturday night as the Chicago Blackhawks and the Anaheim Ducks squared off in Game 4 of the 2015 Western Conference Finals. The building was sent into a frenzy many times and experienced plenty of lows at other times, but somehow the Blackhawks prevailed 5-4 in double overtime as Antoine Vermette scored his first game winning playoff goal since April 25th, 2006- back when he was a member of the Ottawa Senators.

Corey Crawford, with the win, made 47 saves on 51 shots against, while Frederik Andersen saved 35 of 40 shots on goal. Chicago improved to 6-1 at home in the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs as Anaheim fell to 4-2 on the road in the playoffs. The series, meanwhile is now tied 2-2.

Chicago led in many categories at the end of the 1st period, finally dominating the dominators of the Stanley Cup Playoffs so far, the Anaheim Ducks. The Blackhawks had 14 shots on goal compared to the Ducks 6 shots on goal. Chicago also led faceoff wins 9-7 and takeaways 4-3. The physical game was also much closer at the end of twenty minutes in Game 4 than all of the previous games in the series as the Ducks lead 22-16 in hits.

With 2:20 to go, Brent Seabrook took a minor penalty for slashing Anaheim’s, Ryan Kesler, and gave the Ducks their first power play opportunity of the night. Marcus Kruger had an important defensive zone faceoff win that led to the Blackhawks clearing the puck and killing time on the penalty. Anaheim was never fully able to gain an entrance into the offensive zone and caused a turnover that led to Chicago moving the puck past a stumbling Francois Beauchemin- who had tripped after making contact with referee, Chris Rooney- and to the tape of Brandon Saad.

Saad prevented a diving Anaheim defenseman from knocking the puck off his stick and put one past Andersen for his 4th of the playoffs and the 1-0 lead at 19:13 of the 1st period. The Blackhawks came out as a much better team in Game 4 than they had been in Game 3, however, the Ducks further proved why they are a sixty minute effort team as they began to open things up in the 2nd period.

UnknownShortly after Jonathan Toews’s high sticking penalty had come to an end, the Anaheim Ducks got on the scoreboard with a redirected goal from Emerson Etem (his 3rd of the playoffs) assisted by Kyle Palmieri and Francois Beauchemin. After two periods of play, both teams were 0 for 2 on the power play. The Ducks continued to lead in hits, 35-32, and blocked shots, 16-12, but Chicago was still dominating on the faceoff dot, 26-14.

If the first period was all Blackhawks, then the second period was all Ducks, who limited Chicago to just 6 shots on goal in the 2nd. Anaheim, meanwhile, nearly doubled their shots on goal total in that period and tightened the total shots on goal to a close 20-19 statistic in favor of the Blackhawks. Despite the second period dominance from the Ducks, the Blackhawks did have one thing going in their favor- Corey Crawford’s reflexes.

Crawford denied Matt Beleskey on a brilliant opportunity on the rebound with quick reflexes and athleticism that at the time held the 1-0 lead for Chicago, until Etem tied it later in the period. The 1st period was dominated by Chicago, the 2nd period was dominated by Anaheim, and the 3rd period, was wide open and one for the ages.

Nearly three minutes into the 3rd period, Jonathan Toews fired home a wrist shot that beat Andersen and made it a one-goal lead for Chicago. Brandon Saad and Marian Hossa picked up assists on Toews’s goal. The Blackhawks had a 2-1 lead and were outshooting the Ducks 26-19 nearly seven minutes into the third.

Brent Seabrook added his fourth of the playoffs on a slap shot from the point, giving Chicago a 3-1 lead, as Saad picked up his 2nd assist on the night and Toews earned his first. Saad wound up with a goal and two assists for a three-point night and a solid effort alongside Toews and Hossa on the Blackhawks first line.

Photo by Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images
Photo by Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images

And then the magic happened. The Anaheim Ducks scored 3 goals in 37 seconds, going from trailing from 3-1 to leading 4-3. Ryan Kesler scored his 5th of the playoffs with help from Jakob Silfverberg and Andrew Cogliano at 8:42 of the third, then Matt Beleskey added his 6th of the playoffs on an individual effort at 9:05, and finally Corey Perry pocketed his 9th of the playoffs with his goal at 9:19 of the 3rd period, assisted by Ryan Getzlaf.

The United Center went from the euphoria of a 3-1 lead to the silence and chaos of trailing 4-3.

Anaheim’s miracle 3 goals in 37 seconds were the 2nd fastest three goals scored in Stanley Cup Playoffs history. Only the 1979 Toronto Maple Leafs did so faster in a playoff matchup with the Atlanta Flames- it only took them, an NHL record, 23 seconds.

Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images
Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

It wasn’t long before the Ducks took a penalty at 12:23 of the 3rd period, though. Silfverberg was sent to the box with a two-minute minor penalty for holding and the Chicago Blackhawks went on the power play for the third time on the night.

You know as they say, the third time’s a charm, and it was for the Chicago’s power play unit as Patrick Kane tied the game 4-4 with a power play goal on a nice set up from Brad Richards and Duncan Keith. Kane’s 9th of the playoffs came at 12:39 of the period and capped off a span of 6 goals scored between both teams in a 10:01 span.

At the end of regulation, Chicago led the shots on goal department, 33-31, and faceoff wins, 39-26. Anaheim, meanwhile, led in hits 44-42, and blocked shots 23-13. An exciting overtime was set after the intermission allowed for the Zamboni’s to resurface the ice and fans were able to regulate their heartbeats once again.

The first overtime saw end-to-end action, as well as battles all over the ice. The Ducks had 10 shots on goal before the Blackhawks got their first shot on goal in overtime. At 9:44 of overtime, Sami Vatanen took a holding penalty and gave Chicago their fourth power play opportunity of the night. Fortunately for the Ducks, the Blackhawks were not able to capitalize on their man advantage and Anaheim killed off Vatanen’s penalty with ease.

Neither team was able to score as the intensity wore off and the pace settled in. The end of overtime assured that for the 2nd time in the 2015 Western Conference Finals there would be at least double overtime before determining a winner. Anaheim had finally overtaken Chicago in shots on goal with 47-38 at the end of the first overtime. The Ducks were still out hitting the Blackhawks, 58-49, and blocked 32 shots compared to Chicago’s 18 blocked shots.

The Blackhawks, meanwhile, still had a faceoff advantage having led faceoff wins 44-37 after four periods of hockey. In terms of special teams, neither team took another penalty in the game, so the Blackhawks were also winning that department by virtue of having scored a power play goal.

Both teams emerged from the locker rooms for the second overtime and began with noticeable difference in energy. Perhaps still fatigued by the marathon triple overtime- nearly quadruple overtime- Game 2, neither team could get a grip on controlling the game-flow.

Photo by Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images
Photo by Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images

At 5:37 of the second overtime, Antoine Vermette- acquired before the trade deadline in March by the Blackhawks- scored the game-winning goal on a rebound off of Anaheim goalie, Frederik Andersen.

The goal was Vermette’s 2nd of the playoffs and was assisted by Patrick Sharp and Teuvo Teravainen. In keeping with typical Stanley Cup Playoffs fashion, the overtime winning goal was scored by an unexpected hero who had in fact, came up clutch when least thought possible, after having been a healthy scratch for Chicago in Game 3.

The final shots on goal outcome was 51-40, in favor of Anaheim, who also led hits, 60-52, and blocked shots, 34-20, at the end of the night. Chicago laid claim to faceoff wins 48-40 and the more important, final score, 5-4 in double overtime.

With the Blackhawks win the series is now tied at 2-2. Game 5 is Monday night at 9 PM EST at the Honda Center in Anaheim, California. The series is now virtually a best of three game competition with at least two more games to be held.

One thing is for sure, these two teams are bringing out the best in each other- and that’s exciting hockey to watch.

Despres, Ducks, Down Blackhawks 2-1 in Game 3

2015 Western Conference Finals Game 3 Recap

By: Nick Lanciani

UnknownIn front of a sold out United Center the Chicago Blackhawks lost 2-1 on Thursday night to the Anaheim Ducks in Game 3 of the 2015 Western Conference Finals. Simon Despres scored the game winning goal for Anaheim and Frederik Andersen made 27 saves on 28 shots to earn the win. Chicago’s, Corey Crawford, made 25 saves on 27 shots faced in the loss.

If anyone was still tired from Game 2, it didn’t show to start Game 3. Nearly thirteen minutes into the 1st period, Anaheim Ducks forward, Patrick Maroon, pocketed his 5th goal of the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs in the back of the twine to give the Ducks a 1-0 lead. Despite four failed power play opportunities, the Chicago Blackhawks answered back on the scoreboard at 19:03 of the 1st period with a goal of their own. Patrick Kane registered his 8th of the playoffs and first of the series to make it a 1-1 hockey game heading into the first intermission.

Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images
Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

No penalties were called in the 2nd period, leading some to wonder if either team even touched the ice at all for the seemingly lost twenty minutes of play. That is until Simon Despres scored his first goal of the playoffs with 54 seconds left in the period to give Anaheim a 2-1 lead heading into the 2nd intermission.

Although there were no penalties, or aggression, exchanged between both teams, there were plenty of scoring chances and saves made by Frederik Andersen and Corey Crawford. At the end of two periods of play, the Ducks led the shots on goal category 22-18. Anaheim also led in several other statistics, including hits (31-19) and blocked shots (18-9). Despite Anaheim’s dominance in stats, the United Center was still rocking through the night, packed full with Chicago Blackhawks fans.

The 3rd period witnessed no scoring, but was full of penalties (at least compared to the 2nd period). Ryan Getzlaf was called for high sticking on a controversial call at 5:02 of the 3rd. Video replay showed that Getzlaf’s stick did not make any contact with Andrew Shaw. Nearly five minutes later, Ryan Keseler and Duncan Keith were sent off the ice with coincidental minor penalties, leaving the Ducks and the Blackhawks to some 4 on 4 hockey for two minutes.

Unknown-2With 2 minutes left in the game, the Blackhawks pulled Crawford for an extra attacker. Unfortunately, after multiple offensive zone faceoff chances, Chicago could not capitalize on keeping the puck in the zone. Anaheim kept aiming for the empty net, but could not bury an insurance goal. With less than 10 seconds to go, Patrick Kane fired a last chance shot towards the goal that was waffle-boarded away by Andersen and the Ducks took home the victory.

After showing no signs of fatigue in the first period, fatigue eventually set in during the second period and the rest of the game. Both teams played a slower paced game after the marathon triple overtime Game 2 on Tuesday night. Luck won out for the Ducks at the end of the day, who now have a 2-1 series lead heading into Saturday night’s Game 4 in Chicago.