In our countdown of the top Chicago Blackhawks playoff victories under coach Joel Quenneville, we’ve yet to touch on any games from the most-recent postseason run. That’s about to change with our ninth entry in the series, the 65th-most-memorable playoff win overall.
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Games from the 2015 playoff run are bound to be more memorable, on the whole, at the time of this series. We’re barely removed from the Blackhawks’ third Stanley Cup victory in six seasons, and the wins along the way have left an impression that isn’t soon to wear off.
But this list can’t be top-heavy on 2015 wins, as there were some games that didn’t necessarily stack up to those from playoff series of the past. And with that, we look at No. 65 on this list:
Note: Check out the previous entries in this series at the end of this post.
No. 65: 2015 Western Conference finals, Game 6
Chicago Blackhawks 5, Anaheim Ducks 2
This series had some memorable victories for the Blackhawks, so this game kind of falls through the cracks. It was and remains a huge win in the Stanley Cup title run — without it, the Ducks move on to the Final. But it was one of those games where the Blackhawks took care of business, and that’s that.
What this game will ultimately be remembered as is the Duncan Keith Conn Smythe coming out party. Blackhawks fans all know Keith is a phenomenal defenseman — among the best in the league. But it took a three-assist performance that also included a goal-saving play for the national media to pay Keith any attention this year.
The first period of this game was quiet on the scoreboard, though both teams had their chances. The best for Chicago came on a pass from Keith to Jonathan Toews, though Patrick Kane may have been the intended target. So Toews tipped the puck over to Kane, but his shot was stopped by Ducks goaltender Frederik Andersen.
Da Windy City
The Blackhawks received another great bid with about 2 minutes left in the first, as a bouncing puck found the streaking trio of Antoine Vermette, Teuvo Teravainen and Patrick Sharp. After a shot by Sharp, the puck found Teravainen alongside the net. He had Andersen beat, but not the post, and the game remained scoreless.
Business really ramped up for the Blackhawks in the second period. Keith slowly carried the puck from Chicago’s defensive zone and stretched it to Toews at center ice. The captain made a sweet touch pass to Brandon Saad, who showed off the quick-burst speed and accurate wrist shot that helped earn him $36 million in Columbus. All that combined to put the Blackhawks up 1-0 with about 11 and a half minutes left in the middle period.
But Chicago was far from done in this 20-minute segment. The next goal was almost painful in its setup, as Brad Richards found Keith wide open just above the dots. But Keith didn’t shoot. He held the puck. And held it. And held it. By the time Keith tossed the puck to Marian Hossa on Andersen’s left, everyone was convinced Keith would shoot at some point. Instead, Hossa got the shot, and he didn’t miss, putting Chicago up 2-0 at the 10:41 mark.
And then the next goal, about 1:20 later. Keith leaped into the air at the blue line to keep a puck in by hand. He then sent it over to Kane, who did Kane things and beat Andersen to put the Blackhawks up 3-0.
It was ultimately all they’d need, but the Ducks made things very interesting with goals by Patrick Maroon late in the second and Clayton Stoner early in the third. As I’ve said before in this series, games with Stoner goals are made to be forgotten. The Ducks almost tied it at 3 with about 16:30 left in the third, but Keith swept away a puck keyed to trickle behind Corey Crawford.
Chicago was simply hanging on when Marcus Kruger flung the puck from the defensive zone toward Andrew Desjardins. He got it into the offensive zone and flipped a pass in the direction of Andrew Shaw. The best part about this goal was Shaw beating Ryan Getzlaf back to Andersen, and it resulted in Shaw smacking the puck into the Ducks’ net for a 4-2 Chicago advantage with 3:30 to go. Shaw would add an empty-netter about three minutes later to seal the deal.
Aside from the Keith having a stellar game, this game was memorable for some of Anaheim’s star players posting minus-3 ratings. Among them were Getzlaf, Maroon, Corey Perry and Francois Beauchemin. Who doesn’t enjoy a little schadenfreude?
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