For nearly six periods, the Blackhawks and Ducks played a epic game at Honda Center. Game 2 of the Western Conference Final was a marathon that went to triple overtime. In a battle of wills, the Hawks found a way to even the series prevailing 3-2 on Marcus Kruger’s goal at 116:12 of the third overtime. It was the longest playoff game in Hawks’ history.
Kruger’s goal ended a 78:41 stretch since Corey Perry’s tied the contest on a deflection from Ryan Getzlaf at 17:30 of the second period. Anaheim climbed out of an early two-goal hole to force sudden death. Chicago started quickly getting power play goals from Andrew Shaw and Marian Hossa 4:05 apart in the first period. Andrew Cogliano’s redirection of a Nate Thompson shot cut the deficit in half less than three minutes later. Perry evened it on a neat redirect of a Getzlaf shot.
The story was the brilliant play of the two netminders. On one side, Corey Crawford made 60 saves including 28 in overtime. On the other was Frederik Andersen who finished with 53 saves to suffer a gut wrenching defeat. Neither budged in sudden death. They each were sensational making astonishing stops at each end. Crawford’s best saves came during the second OT when he denied Cam Fowler and then stoned Perry point blank. He also benefited from three goalposts. Andersen’s best came when he robbed Antoine Vermette in the final minute of double OT. He also denied Shaw point blank in the first OT.
How impressive was it? Led by Getzlaf, Perry and an activated defense, the Ducks’ furious forecheck causing all sorts of chaos against a undermanned Hawks who basically played four defensemen with major minutes going to Brent Seabrook (47:46), Duncan Keith (49:51), Niklas Hjalmarsson (47:35) and Johnny Oduya (46:06). Even with coach Joel Quenneville barely rotating Kimmo Timonen and Kyle Cumiskey (Comiskey), they managed to prevail despite Anaheim’s physicality and size. The Ducks outhit the Hawks 71-45. They were the fresher team with coach Bruce Boudreau able to trust all six of his blueliners even with Fowler (40:21), Francois Beauchemin (46:29) and Hampus Lindholm (44:07) logging heavy minutes.
The Ducks did a great job limiting Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews. They combined for 11 shots but weren’t given a lot of real estate. Most of the Hawks’ best chances were created by Vermette and rookie Teuvo Teravainen. They were dangerous throughout sudden death with Vermette in particular almost ending it before the conclusion of the second OT. He also was perfectly set up on the doorstep but missed a tap-in.
Anaheim put on heavy pressure for most of the third overtime. An extended shift from Getzlaf, Perry and Patrick Maroon had an exhausted Hawks pinned in for almost two minutes. They iced the puck but caught a break with it coming under 10 minutes left which meant the ice had to be cleaned. Knowledgeable Ducks fans groaned. That along with a great solo effort from Kyle Palmieri which Crawford denied with help in front were their best opportunities to go up two games to none. Instead, they’re knotted with Game 3 Thursday at Chicago.
With both goalies locked in, the game seemed headed to a fourth overtime. However, with over four minutes left Seabrook was able to get a shot through off a board carom which changed direction twice. It looked like it might’ve went off Shaw before going right to to Kruger who batted it out of mid-air to beat Andersen. That fortunate bounce is how the game had to be decided. It wasn’t gonna be a clean shot.
At one point in the second OT with the Hawks on a power play, Shaw intentionally headbutted a puck out of mid-air into the Ducks net. Knowing he couldn’t use his stick, he headed the puck past Andersen causing a premature celebration. But once the refs got together, it went to video review and was properly waved off. Even though it was creative, a player cannot do that. Shaw may as well have used a glove to bat it in. No way that was going to count.
The controversial play certainly drew plenty of chuckles. It was hilarious. Give Shaw credit for originality. But unless you’re a goalie and usually named Henrik Lundqvist, you can’t use your helmet.
With that series all even, you wonder what they’ll do for an encore tomorrow. Full credit to Rangers’ radio announcer Kenny Albert for traveling to Anaheim and doing Game 2 with Joe Micheletti. Albert will take a red eye to Tampa for Game 3 tonight. There’s not a harder working man. He’ll then fly to Chicago for Game 3. Amazing.
That in a nutshell is the playoffs for broadcast talent. They do a wonderful job.