Chicago’s stars showed up in a big way and a dominant Blackhawks victory forces a Game Seven in Anaheim.
The Hawks came out and played a strong opening period, but the Ducks shot blockers had a good 20 minutes to keep the score tied at zero. Corey Crawford had a very good opening period, keeping Anaheim off the board while facing 10 shots. Chicago’s skaters in front of him were dominant at the dot and carried the puck up the ice effectively; the start was a complete reversal from Game Five.
It took eight minutes into the second period for the Blackhawks to get on the board, but once they got the puck past Frederik Andersen the flood gates were open.
Brandon Saad opened the scoring, taking a pass from Patrick Kane and depositing his fifth of the postseason. Only 2:18 later, Duncan Keith patiently waited for the Ducks to skate past him and found Marian Hossa to Andersen’s left for the second goal of the period. It was only Hossa’s third goal of the playoffs, but he now has a point in four of the last five games.
Less than two minutes after Hossa’s goal, Kane danced through the Anaheim defense and extended the lead to 3-0 with his team-leading tenth goal of the playoffs. Chicago put three goals on Andersen in less than four minutes, and Anaheim’s goaltender was clearly shaken.
But good teams don’t go away easily – as the Hawks showed in Game Five – and the Ducks climbed back into the game. Brad Richards went to the box for hooking and Patrick Maroon scored seven seconds into the power play to cut the lead to 3-1. Anaheim brought more intense offensive pressure to the end of the second period, but Crawford again played big to keep the lead at two.
The Ducks came out of the dressing room with purpose to open the third and gave the Blackhawks fits to open the final frame. After an extended period of play in the Hawks’ defensive zone, Clayton Stoner scored his first of the playoffs to cut the lead to 3-2.
And, suddenly, fingernails in Chicago were in serious danger.
Crawford and the Hawks withstood 13 minutes of pressure until, and one shot nearly beat him; thankfully, Duncan Keith flipped a loose puck away from the goal line to maintain the lead.
As the Ducks did in Game Five, the Hawks were able to generate a rare offensive chance and made it count. Andrew Shaw took a great pass from Andrew Desjardins and flipped a great shot over Andersen to push the lead back to two with 3:32 left in regulation.
Andersen went to the bench with two minutes left and Anaheim continued to put pressure on the Blackhawks but Crawford continued to make save after save. With less than one minute showing on the clock, Desjardins made another great play to find Shaw in the open ice and he scored his second of the night to put the final nail in the coffin.
Jonathan Toews finished the night without a point in exactly 19 minutes (of course), but he won 10 of 12 faceoffs and was credited with two hits. Coach Joel Quenneville mixed up his lines from the opening drop of the puck, skating Toews with Kane and Saad. Toews dominated Ryan Kesler, who finished winning just three of 13 faceoffs and was minus-two on the night.
Shaw had a monster night, leading the Blackhawks with seven hits in addition to his two goals in the third period. He also won three of six faceoffs on a fourth line that was effective all over the ice once again. Desjardins was credited with five hits with two assists, and Marcus Kruger picked up an assist and won seven of 10 faceoffs.
Keith once again skated a team-high 28:35 and was exceptional, once again proving there aren’t many – if any – defensemen in the game that rank better on the blue line. He was credited with four blocked shots and three assists in the game.
Johnny Oduya led the Hawks with seven blocked shots and skated 22:25, while Niklas Hjalmarsson was credited with two blocked shots, one hit, one takeaway and was plus-four in 26:45 in the victory. Brent Seabrook was credited with six hits and two blocked shots in 23:32.
David Rundblad was inserted into the lineup in place of Kimmo Timonen and skated only 5:53, but didn’t make a critical mistake and blocked one shot. Kyle Cumiskey only skated 7:15 and was credited with one hit.
Crawford was great all night, stopping 30 of 32 in the game and 12 of 13 against a desperate Anaheim team in the third period. Andersen only faced 22 shots (thanks to really good shot blocking by the skaters in front of him), but allowed four of Chicago’s five goals.
For only the second time since 1964, there will be two Game Sevens in the NHL semi-finals; the last time was in 2000. Saturday night, the confident Blackhawks will skate into Anaheim with a chance to return to the Stanley Cup Final.