Ducks score three unanswered third-period goals to top Blackhawks 4-2
BY MARK LAZERUS firstname.lastname@example.org March 20, 2013 11:09PM
ANAHEIM, CA - MARCH 20: Jonathan Toews #19 of the Chicago Blackhawks receives high fives from the bench after scoring a shorthanded goal against the Anaheim Ducks in the first period at Honda Center on March 20, 2013 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images) ORG XMIT: 162516039
Updated: April 22, 2013 12:26PM
ANAHEIM, Calif. — If these truly are the best two teams in the Western Conference — and the evidence is pretty clear at this point — then the Western Conference finals could be awfully interesting. And awfully entertaining.
And for the Blackhawks, awfully difficult.
The Anaheim Ducks scored two goals in a 64-second span late in the third period to stun the league-leading Hawks 4-2 in a rollicking, playoff-like affair on Wednesday night at the Honda Center, extending their franchise-record home win streak to 13 games.
The Hawks had been 17-0-1 when leading after two periods. The lone loss? Against the Ducks, in a shootout at the United Center. Anaheim tied that one with 2:40 to go in the third period.
The Ducks now trail the Hawks by just three points, with a game in hand.
“It was a tough game,” Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said. “We were five minutes away from the perfect [4-0] road trip. It’s kind of comparable to the game in Chicago — probably a seven-point swing when you look at it, when it’s all said and done.”
The highly anticipated game — the Ducks, who won the Stanley Cup in 2007, drew the largest crowd in franchise history, 17,610 — lived up to the hype. It was an intense atmosphere with a loud contingent of Hawks fans in attendance, and a fast-paced, physical game between the top two teams — by a mile — in the conference standings.
“My heart rate was up for most of the game,” Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau said. “Looked to me much like a playoff game. We were lucky to come out on top.”
The Hawks led 2-1 entering the second period and had seized control of the game after a shaky first period. And when Brandon Bollig appeared to score his first career regular-season goal in the third period, it seemed the Hawks had the game well in hand. But replays showed Bollig had kicked the puck in, the goal was waved off, and the Ducks had new life.
“It’s frustrating considering we thought we were looking at a 3-1 lead at one point,” said Hawks captain Jonathan Toews. “Even though it was still 2-1, we’ve got to find a way to not let that be a momentum-breaker for us, and keep working keep doing the right things. Just had a couple breakdowns.”
With 5:27 to go, the Ducks tied it up at 2-2 when Ryan Getzlaf threw the puck on net, and Bobby Ryan jammed the rebound past Corey Crawford. A minute and four seconds later, the Hawks botched a line change, then failed to clear their own zone, allowing Teemu Selanne to score off a Getzlaf feed. Sheldon Souray added an empty-netter with 20.7 seconds left to seal the Hawks’ first regulation come-from-ahead loss.
Patrick Kane — double-shifting again and skating a season-high 25:21 with Marian Hossa out and Daniel Carcillo only skating three shifts all game — blamed himself for the tying goal, and was kicking himself for pulling a backhander on the doorstep wide of an open net in the waning seconds of the second period.
“I could have been better tonight,” he said. “Obviously I wasn’t good enough, and that’s the reason we lost the game.”
The Ducks looked like the superior team in the first period, with the Hawks lucky to escape with a 1-1 tie. Peter Holland scored just 85 seconds into the game. When Bollig took an interference penalty a minute and a half later, the Hawks appeared to be in trouble.
But Toews evened things up with a shorthanded goal. After Andrew Cogliano couldn’t get his stick down on a centering feed, Toews grabbed the puck and raced down the right wing before slipping the puck past Anaheim goaltender Jonas Hiller for his 15th goal of the season.
But that was the lone first-period highlight for the Hawks, who were sloppy with the puck in their own end and had to be repeatedly bailed out by Crawford. In all, the Hawks were outshot 11-5 in the first.
After a weak power play to start the second period — one in which the Ducks had the puck the majority of the time — the Hawks finally gained some traction on the patchy Honda Center ice. Toews went hard to the net, all but dragging Sheldon Souray into the crease, to draw a holding penalty. That set up Nick Leddy’s goal, a blast from the blue line that made its way through a Viktor Stalberg screen and past Hiller for a 2-1 Hawks lead. It was Leddy’s 22nd birthday.
The Hawks outshot the Ducks 11-7 in the second period, and carried that momentum into the third period, before two blown plays — “Small, little things,” Duncan Keith said — cost them the game.
One advantage of being 24-3-3 is being able to have perspective after a tough loss. The Hawks were disappointed, but not devastated by the outcome.
“Yeah, it’s disappointing, we’re not happy about it,” Toews said. “But we still did some good things out there. So far this season, that’s probably one of the highest-paced, tightest games we’ve played. And obviously the best team. There’s a reason they’re right up there with us in the standings. … We made some mistakes in the third, the last five minutes, and it’s something we’ll learn from and we’ll move on, and we’ll get over it.”