Blackhawks’ top 10 great escapes in the playoffs
BY MARK POTASH firstname.lastname@example.org | @MarkPotash May 31, 2014 9:24PM
Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford dives back across the crease to try and stop a wide-open shot by St. Louis Blues right wing T.J. Oshie in third period action during Game 5 of a Western Conference quarterfinal playoff game Friday, April 25, 2014, at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis. (AP Photo/The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Chris Lee) ORG XMIT: MOSTP304
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Updated: July 2, 2014 3:03PM
Like a high-wire act that doesn’t seem to realize it’s working without a net, the Blackhawks are more comfortable than they probably should be in tight, even desperate situations. But it works.
Overcoming third-period deficits to win back-to-back elimination games against the Los Angeles Kings — including a 4-3 victory in Game 6 at Staples Center — added to the litany of narrow escapes that has punctuated the Jonathan Toews/Patrick Kane era.
The Hawks are 17-6 in games that are tied in the third period over the last two postseasons. The Kings — as close to the Hawks as any team in that span — are 6-8.
“Competitive guys. They find a way,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “They overcome a lot of different challenges. They want to win. [Game 6] is a good example. Game 5, same situation — down in the third period, and it doesn’t look good. They don’t change their approach. We know we have some guys that can make plays and have some ability to score.”
While close calls usually exhaust a team over time, they seem to fuel the Hawks, who are 13-0 in Games 5-7 of the playoffs over the last two seasons, including 5-0 in overtime.
“We’ve done it quite a bit here,” Quenneville siad. “We’ve been behind in a lot of these series lately. To me, it’s a seven-game series, and it gets sorted out at the end. We find a way to get better as we go along in series and in games. That’s what we look forward to [in Game 7].
It’s hard to blame the Hawks for being so confident. The list of narrow escapes is as impressive as it is long. From elimination games to avoiding elimination games, they know how to get themselves out of trouble:
1. Game 5 vs. Los Angeles, Western Conference final, 2014:
Trailing 3-1 in the series, the Hawks led 3-1 in the second period at the UC but trailed 4-3 to start the third. Ben Smith tied the score early in the third, Corey Crawford made 19 saves in the third period and overtimes and the Hawks won in double OT when Michal Handzus scored.
2. Game 7 vs. Detroit, second round, 2013:
With momentum after winning Games 5 and 6, the Hawks needed overtime to win the deciding game at the United Center. After Niklas Hjalmarsson’s late third-period goal was disallowed because of a penalty, Brent Seabrook scored with a shot that deflected off defenseman Niklas Kronwall’s leg.
3. Game 6 at Los Angeles, Western Conference final, 2014:
Trailing 3-2 in the series, the Hawks allowed back-to-back goals 2:06 apart to fall behind 3-2 with 12:22 left in regulation. But Patrick Kane fed Duncan Keith for the tying goal with 8:46 left, then scored the game-winner with 3:45 to go as the Hawks forced a Game 7.
4. Game 6 at Detroit, second round, 2013:
The Hawks were less than 20 minutes from elimination on the road when Michal Handzus tied the score early in the third period. Bryan Bickell and Michael Frolik also scored in the third, and the Hawks hung on for a 4-3 victory that forced a Game 7 at the United Center.
5. Game 6 at Boston, Stanley Cup Final, 2013:
The Hawks were 70 seconds away from a Game 7 coin flip at the United Center when Bryan Bickell scored with 1:09 to play and Dave Bolland found the net 17 seconds later as the Hawks clinched their second Cup in four years.
6. Game 4 at Boston, Stanley Cup Final, 2013:
After losing back-to-back games at the United Center and TD Garden to fall behind 2-1 in the series, the Hawks lost leads of 1-0, 4-2 and 5-4 before Brent Seabrook’s overtime goal gave them a 6-5 victory to avoid a 3-1 deficit.
7. Game 4 vs. Vancouver, second round, 2009:
Down 2-1 in the series and 1-0 in the third period at home, the Hawks were minutes from an elimination game in Vancouver when Martin Havlat scored the tying goal with 2:44 left in regulation and Andrew Ladd won it in overtime.
8. Game 5 vs. Nashville, first round, 2010:
The Hawks were seconds away from playing an elimination game on the road when Patrick Kane scored the tying goal with 14 seconds left in regulation. Marian Hossa, just out of the penalty box, won it in overtime.
9. Game 5 at St. Louis, first round, 2014:
With the series tied 2-2 and the Hawks needing to win on the road, Corey Crawford stopped T.J. Oshie on a 2-on-1 late in regulation and the Hawks won in OT when Duncan Keith’s clearing pass deflected off Andrew Shaw and right to Jonathan Toews for a breakaway goal.
10. Game 2 vs. Vancouver, second round, 2010:
After losing 5-1 in Game 1 at the UC, the Hawks fell behind 2-0 in the first 5:02 of Game 2 at home and trailed 2-1 in the third. But Patrick Sharp scored a short-handed goal with 13:11 left, and Kris Versteeg scored with 1:30 to go as the Hawks avoided falling into a 2-0 deficit.