Game 7s are typically the most exciting thing in professional sports. The season is entirely on the line for two teams, which are playing to move on to the next round of the postseason — or for the league’s championship. The most recent Game 7 the Chicago Blackhawks participated in, however, will be swept behind several other postseason wins in the Joel Quenneville era.
This one was really over before it even started. The Ducks tried to close out the Blackhawks in Game 6 of the Western Conference finals and failed miserably, and it just seemed as though they knew they missed their chance by the time Game 7 rolled around. The final score made this game appear closer than it really was, and that’s all we really need to know when placing this win next on our countdown of top Blackhawks postseason victories under Quenneville.
Note: Check out the previous entries in this series at the end of this post.
No. 46: 2015 Western Conference finals, Game 7
Chicago Blackhawks 5, Anaheim Ducks 3
The Blackhawks got going early in this one, with Patrick Kane carrying the puck deep into the offensive zone and dropping it back to Niklas Hjalmarsson. We know the defenseman doesn’t take a ton of shots, but when he does they seem to find a way into trouble spots for the opposition. That happened here, as Jonathan Toews was on Frederik Andersen‘s doorstep to smack home the pinballing puck for a 1-0 Chicago lead less than three minutes in.
Not wanting to just be remembered for an offensive moment in this game, Hjalmarsson followed his assist with a simple yet crucial play with his stick three minutes later. Ryan Getzlaf broke free of a neutral-zone scrum with the puck and wired a shot at Corey Crawford. Getzlaf was playing for a rebound and got it, as the puck skittered right to an attacking Patrick Maroon. But before Maroon could get his stick on it, Hjalmarsson stuck his own stick out and knocked the puck just wide of where Maroon thought it would be, killing the attack.
Da Windy City
The next goal would also come from the Blackhawks, on a powerplay about 11 minutes into the opening period. On a really simple play, Brad Richards got the puck to Toews above the circles, and Toews just wired a shot through traffic and over Andersen’s shoulder for a 2-0 Chicago edge.
Though I said at the top this game was one-sided, the Ducks did have their opportunities to make it close early. Duncan Keith made a rare mistake in his defensive zone, leading to a deflection chance for Corey Perry right in front of Crawford. But the goaltender stood tall and turned it aside.
Some more sloppiness would lead to a Chicago goal early in the second period, however. Anaheim failed to clear the puck from its defensive zone, and it eventually squirted off the boards to a wide-open Kane just above the circles. Instead of taking a shot, Kane slap-passed to Brandon Saad standing all alone on Andersen’s left doorstep. Saad had an entire empty net to shoot at and didn’t miss, and the Blackhawks were really off and running now at 3-0.
The Blackhawks didn’t take terribly long to more or less bury the Ducks, as an attack by Marian Hossa and Richards saw the latter put a shot on Andersen and the former gobble up a rebound and send it past a helpless Andersen. The Blakhawks were now ahead 4-0 with about six minutes to go in the second period. The fourth goal was the one where you could really tell things were over. Hossa and Richards both beat multiple men to the puck multiple times, and the Ducks just seemed mentally defeated by this point.
Of course, they weren’t totally defeated. Ryan Kesler sniped a goal from a terrible angle very late in the second to pull the Ducks within three, and Perry tallied with less than nine minutes to go in the game following some nice passing from Getzlaf and Maroon.
But the Blackhawks would officially put this one out of reach when Brent Seabrook hammered home a powerplay goal with about 6:30 left to push Chicago ahead 5-2. Matt Beleskey notched a powerplay tally of his own with less than a minute left, but by then it was too little too late for Anaheim.
The win allowed the Blackhawks to escape from a conference finals series in which they never held a series lead until winning Game 7. Thankfully they don’t ask how long you led a series as qualification to play for a Stanley Cup.
No. 47 | No. 48 | No. 49 | No. 50 | No. 51 | No. 52 | No. 53 | No. 54 | No. 55 | No. 56 | No. 57 | No. 58 | No. 59 | No. 60 | No. 61 | No. 62 | No. 63 | No. 64 | No. 65 | No. 66 | No. 67 | No. 68 | No. 69 | No. 70 | No. 71 | No. 72 | No. 73
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