So, it’s Hawks and Lightning for the Stanley Cup. The Blackhawks prevailed over the Ducks 5-3 in Game 7 last night allowing another road team to prevail. So much for home ice.
As it turned out, Chicago’s championship experience and will to win was enough to make Anaheim a loser at home in a Game 7 for the third straight time. They also blew a 3-2 lead to the Kings in last year’s second round losing 6-2 in the seventh game. When it comes down to it, the Hawks’ dynamic duo of Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane are better in big games than the Ducks’ tandem of Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry. Toews scored twice in the first period and Kane recorded three assists.
Before the Ducks knew what hit them, they fell behind 4-0 on second period goals from Brandon Saad and Marian Hossa. Hossa’s goal the back breaker counting when video review confirmed that he didn’t kick the puck in. Brad Richards set it up. He had a good night tallying two assists. For the series, the former Blueshirt registered a goal and six helpers. Not bad for a guy who once was benched by John Tortorella in an elimination game.
At least to their credit Anaheim still competed with consecutive goals from Ryan Kesler and Perry cutting the deficit to two with 8:24 left in the third. They gave their fans something to get excited about until Cam Fowler took a dumb penalty over a minute later that led directly to Brent Seabrook’s power play goal from Kane and iron horse Duncan Keith. Keith who is probably their leading candidate for Conn Smythe with his three assist game in their Game 6 win and all the ridiculous minutes he played in sudden death. He’s a warrior.
Despite Richards missing an empty net, Matt Beleskey’s power play goal at 19:18 was too late. There would be no miraculous finish like in the Mighty Ducks. Perhaps they could’ve used Charlie Conway, Adam Banks, Fulton Reed and Coach Gordon Bombay. Instead, they’re left to ponder what could’ve been. Similar to the Rangers who’ll have break up day at noon tomorrow.
For the losers, there’s emptiness. They’ll both be left to reflect this summer before the returning in mid-September for another long season. When the Hawks and Lightning drop the puck Wednesday in Tampa, only one team will win the Cup. The loser will join the Ducks and Rangers. That’s the cruel part of the playoffs which are unforgiving. The Rangers know it having made it to the Final Four three of the last four years. They still haven’t changed the ending.