It took more than 82 minutes, but the Chicago Blackhawks survived an elimination game at home with a dramatic 5-4 win in double overtime.
Coach Joel Quenneville mixed his lines once again, and this time found a winner in Patrick Kane, Andrew Shaw and Brandon Saad. Kane had four assists – including three in the first period – and Saad had one goal and two assists to lead the Blackhawks to victory.
Two minutes into the second overtime, Saad and Kane led a rush up the ice that concluded with Michal Handzus burying the game-winning goal.
Chicago sprinted to a 2-0 lead in the first 3:40, but Jarrett Stoll cut the lead in half. Saad scored his goal 1:17 after Stoll’s tally, but Marian Gaborik made the score 3-2 only 2:10 later.
Unfortunately, the pretty numbers put up by Kane, Saad and Shaw (who had two assists as well) were overshadowed in the second period by another rough 20 minutes. Dustin Brown and Tanner Pearson scored two minutes apart in the middle of the second period to give the Kings the lead and deflate all emotion from the United Center.
Late in the second period, Shaw took Jake Muzzin into the boards and it appeared his leg bent the wrong direction. He stayed down and appeared to be in pain for a moment, but was able to skate off on his own. He returned for the third period.
After a hideous shift led to the game-tying goal, Kris Versteeg found himself stapled to the bench. He didn’t take a shift in the third period or either overtime, finishing with only nine shifts and 6:48 in the game.
A Ben Smith goal 1:17 into the third period tied the game and brought life back into the building and the Blackhawks. The Hawks out-shot the Kings 16-8 in the third period and forced overtime with their backs against the wall.
The first overtime period took only 26 minutes of real time, as the teams skated back-and-forth with quality chances on both ends. Neither team was able to close the ledger for the night, however, so the game went to a second overtime.
Once there, Handzus scored his first game-winning goal of the playoffs to extend the Blackhawks’ season at least one more game. It’s the first overtime playoff goal of Handzus’ career.
After the game, Quenneville said that “might have been the greatest overtime I’ve ever seen.”
Not only did Quenneville mix up his forward lines, but he threw his defensive pairs into the blender as well. Here’s how the ice time broke down for the six defensemen Quenneville dressed on Wednesday night:
- Duncan Keith – 37:37
- Niklas Hjalmarsson – 31:47
- Johnny Oduya – 29:01
- Michal Rozsival – 24:41
- Brent Seabrook – 24:39
- Nick Leddy – 14:45
Seabrook led Chicago’s defensemen with three blocked shots in the game; Smith added a team-high four blocks and three hits to his game-tying goal. Shaw and Bryan Bickell, both of whom skated more than 24 minutes in the game, finished tied with a game-high eight hits; Brown had eight hits for the Kings as well.
Saad led the team with seven shots on net and also had a team-high three takeaways, playing his best game of the postseason.
The Hawks’ special teams bounced back from a rough three games to kill all three of the Kings’ power plays on the night. Seabrook’s goal to open the game was a power play marker for the Hawks, who were 1-4 with the advantage.
Crawford was visibly frustrated throughout the opening 40 minutes, and rightfully so. The fourth goal was one he’ll undoubtedly want back, and he trailed entering the third in spite of Jonathan Quick allowing three goals in the first period.
But Crawford bounced back with a strong third period and even better overtime(s). He stopped all 19 shots he faced in the final 42 minutes, and finished the game with 40 saves against 44 shots in the victory. Quick also stopped 40 shots, but faced 45 in the loss.
Los Angeles once again dominated the Hawks at the dot, winning 40 of 73 faceoffs in the game. Not surprisingly, Anze Kopitar led the way for the Kings, winning 15 of 26 faceoffs. Drew Doughty skated 39:04 and was credited with four blocked shots, nine shots on goal and two hits on the night.
There will be more hockey for these Blackhawks. Puck drop on Friday night is 8:00 pm CT at Staples Center. Can they force a Game Seven?