(Photo: Blackhawks Facebook)

Ending after 1:00 a.m. CT Tuesday, it was the longest game in Blackhawks franchise history. It was the longest game played at the Honda Center. And, while the Anaheim Ducks were focused on getting into the Blackhawks’ heads, the Hawks were using theirs (figuratively and literally).

 

After more than five periods and five hours of hockey, Blackhawks forward Marcus Kruger would mercifully end a game where he and his fellow teammates took 71 hits, his team’s already-depleted defense played 116 minutes, killed five penalties and blocked 29 shots, his goaltender Corey Crawford made 60 saves, and a would-be wacky winner by Andrew Shaw was waved off. At 8:47 of double-overtime, with agitator Ryan Kesler and Francois Beauchemin defending the net as well as goalie Frederik Andersen, Shaw launched himself off the ice at a airborne wobbling puck and knocked it soccer header style into the net.

 

The team celebrated. The announcers commended the “heads-up” play. Helmets would become the new shinpads. And then the officials called Toronto, who supplied them with the following information, breaking hearts of sleepy Hawks fans and restoring hope for the Ducks: According to Rule 78.5 (i) “Apparent goals shall be disallowed when the puck has  been directed, batted or thrown into the net by an attacking player other than with a stick.”  


“But the rule says you can’t do that,” Shaw said after the game. “If anyone can pull that off I think they should call it a goal. Just how cool it is.”

The Blackhawks would have to recover. They’d have to put their minds and bodies back into the game, and that they did.

“It feels like it’s happened a few times to us. We’ve been able to bounce back right after that,” Kruger said. “I mean, at least me, I thought the game was over there. Then they called it back.
“We had to regroup. I think we did a great job staying with it–ended up with the win later.”

 With just under four minutes left in triple overtime, Kruger would rebound in his own knock-down after a blueline shot by Brent Seabrook set up by Johnny Oduya.

It very well could’ve been fate. Early in the game, Kruger was the target of Clayton Stoner‘s aggression:

 

Likewise, the Ducks put targets on the backs of Chicago’s defensemen. In fact, Ryan Kesler announced before their meetings his strategy to “invest in them physically.”

So, when veteran defenseman Kimmo Timonen, who has been playing around five minutes a game and returned to the ice in April after recovering from blood clots, hit the ice, he was hammered.

 

Hits favored Anaheim 71 to 44.

But Chicago played through the hits, as they usually do. They kept ticking.

The first period was pretty heavily theirs.

It started while Patrick Maroon served a boarding penalty on defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson.

At just 2:14 into the period, on the power play, Jonathan Toews passed back to Duncan Keith, who fired from the blue line for a deflection by Shaw.

 

Then, about four minutes later, while Stoner served that crosscheck penalty (above) on Kruger, Marian Hossa would give the Hawks a two-goal lead on a power play.

 

Brad Richards sent the puck toward the net from the right circle where Bryan Bickell would deflect to Hossa for another gritty goal at the net.

Then Andrew Cogliano would cut the lead in half just under halfway through the period.

Nate Thompson rushed into the zone then dished to Cam Fowler, who fed Cogliano to slide the puck past an already-invested Crawford.

The Hawks wouldn’t regain momentum in intermission. For the next 20, the Ducks displayed a significant advantage–outshooting the Hawks 19-7.

Just 2:30 into the second Corey Perry would knot the score and neither team would recover for almost another game’s worth of hockey.

The Ducks played this goal like they were on a power play, with Sami Vatanen passing from the far right of the circle for Ryan Getzlaf to put on net for Perry’s tip-in.

The rest of the game featured failed power plays on both sides. The Blackhawks had 37 shots while the Ducks had 36.

Andersen and Crawford did a lot of this.

 

Crawford even recorded a hit.

But, ultimately, exhausted yet exhilarated, the Blackhawks would be leaving the Honda Center with one win.

 

“That was obviously the biggest win of the playoffs so far for us,” Crawford said. “To go back 1-1 at home is really big for this team. We’ve got to work even harder next game.”

 

Game One

This long, hard-fought victory came on the tails of a 4-1, humbling loss.

Despite outshooting the Ducks 33-27, Chicago was overpowered physically with hits 44-34 and shot-blocks 22-9. The Blackhawks were unable to capitalize on three power plays.

Hampus Lindholm (Jakob Silfverberg, Matt Beleskey) tallied the first goal 8:48 into the first.

At 4:17 into the second, Kyle Palmieri (Thompson) gave the Ducks a two-goal lead.

Richards answered for the Hawks with about 40 seconds left in the second period.

But Thompson (Cogliano, Lindholm) would extend the lead to 3-1 at 12:05 into the third period.

And, with Crawford pulled and just under two minutes remaining, Silfverberg (Simon Despres, Getzlaf) sealed the Ducks’ win with an empty-netter.

After the loss, Chicago made a lineup change to its struggling defense–switching injured Michal Rozsival‘s replacement David Rundblad (a minus-one in Game One) with Kyle Cumiskey, who was able to see more ice time in Game Two, and, by the end of the especially long game displayed progress on the ice.

Coach Joel Quenneville has been tight-lipped about Game Three back in Chicago Thursday night, but he isn’t worried about fatigue from the first two games–they had a similar situation against Nashville and were able to recover.

“I think our group starting on time, they’ll focus on the next game, the importance of each and every game, the meaning of it, the excitement of coming back here. We haven’t been back here in a while playing a huge game like today. The experience of our players that have played in many big games, coming off some tough, long overtime games, their preparation in moving on, you have to commend the leadership group–the guys that have been through it, it’s another part of the experience.”

Hawks Need Their Stars to Shine

Unlike in the previous series, the Ducks have thus far done a pretty good job keeping the usual high-flying Hawks grounded. With a weak defense, the team needs an especially strong offense.

Patrick Kane has zero points in these last two games despite every possible effort to get the puck past the goal line.

Sharp has no points. Toews has one assist. Hossa has one goal.

These guys are going to need to figure out the opponent and turn on the heat. This series is not about pretty goals. It will take pretty maneuvering of the puck, but they have to be just as capable of nasty bounces as the third and fourth-liners.

“We don’t want to look too far ahead. We’ll take it one game at a time,” Toews said. “Nobody goes into a game planning to play for six periods. You take it one shift at a time. I think considering the way we played, we know there’s a lot more in the tank. I think we’re excited to get back to home ice, to try to get them on their heels a little bit more, find the excitement, that energy we’ve had in our own building.
“I think we’re happy we are coming home one game apiece–but obviously coming into our own building, we want to take control of the series and have the puck more than we’ve had in the last few games.”

Home ice is significant to this team, as are these next two games. The energy in Chicago should hopefully amplify the Blackhawks.

Quenneville thinks so.

“Well, I think obviously we mentioned this after the last game, the enthusiasm we’re going to have in this building–the anthem here. Great place to be. The enthusiasm in the city gets more intense as we go along. I think everybody probably had a long day at work yesterday and are looking forward to today’s game. It’s a special place. I think our players know the advantage–the perk of playing in front of such a passionate fan base, the excitement. We look forward to this. I think playing here at home against a good road team here–it’s going to be a good test.”

 

Western Conference Final Schedule

  • Game 3: 7:00 p.m. CT Thurs. May 21 in Chicago, broadcast on NBCSN, CBC, and TVA Sports
  • Game 4: 7:00 p.m. CT Sat. May 23 in Chicago, broadcast on NBC, CBC, and TVA Sports
  • Game 5: 8:00 p.m. CT Mon. May 25 in Anaheim, broadcast on NBCSN, CBC, and TVA SportsIF NEEDED:
  • Game 6: 7:00 p.m. CT Wed. May 27 in Chicago, broadcast on NBCSN, CBC, and TVA Sports
  • Game 7: 7:00 p.m. CT Sat. May 30 in Anaheim, broadcast on NBCSN, CBC, and TVA Sports

 

(As always, click the bold links for video clips or other information. Gifs via Stephanie Vail @myregularface)

 

Carly Mullady grew up needing to know more about icing than its deliciousness on cupcakes. She's the lone daughter of four children, with a father who was among the last cut from the Midwest tryouts for the 1980 Miracle on Ice Olympic team. And she knows very little matches the thrill that happens from puck-drop to handshakes. A rink didn’t return to her hometown until she was gone, but she’s been able to see two younger brothers on the ice. She's their feistiest fan. Her other hockey loyalty lies with the Blackhawks--whether it's meant seeing games for $8 with student IDs when the Madhouse didn’t have much of a temper at all, or dancing to Chelsea Dagger at standing room only--there’s something magical about a roaring anthem, the Indianhead sweater, and the Original Six. A former journalist and current editor, she carries a penchant for excitement (and maybe even fighting) with a resume that includes working for Chicago-area newspapers, and television, including The Jerry Springer Show, as well as NBCUniversal in New York. After East Coast living and a return to the Chicago area, the new Mrs. is giving Graceland a go with her Southern Gent, who now shares her adoration of the game, and their rescue dog, Doc Holliday. Other interests include Cubs, Bears, Illini, Crimson Tide, Pumpkin Spice Lattes, baking a mean pineapple upside-down cake, Kate Spade accessories, and a properly coordinated cardigan for every ensemble.

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