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Top Chicago Blackhawks Playoff Wins: Insane Third Period

By Colin Likas
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Chicago Blackhawks fans may have heard the phrase “A two-goal lead is the most dangerous in hockey” thrown around, either seriously or in jest. The Blackhawks tend to lead a lot of teams by two goals these days, but they’ve also had issues with stepping off the gas, allowing those teams a chance to get back into the contest.

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That was taken to the extreme when the Blackhawks were trying to tie their playoff series against the Anaheim Ducks earlier this year, and it resulted in one of the wildest third periods in you’ll see. That’s a big reason why this game is the next entry on our countdown of most memorable Blackhawks playoff wins under coach Joel Quenneville.

Note: Check out the previous entries in this series at the end of this post.

No. 12: 2015 Western Conference finals, Game 4

Chicago Blackhawks 5, Anaheim Ducks 4 (2OT)

When Niklas Hjalmarsson helps create your team’s first scoring chance of the night, you know things are going to be a little wonky. A dump and chase by the defensive defenseman eventually got the puck to Duncan Keith above the circles, and he managed two good shots on Frederik Andersen, though both were turned away.

On the same note, when Hjalmarsson and Keith are the cause of an own-zone turnover, you know things are going to be a little wonky. Corey Perry‘s forecheck on Hjalmarsson worked to near-perfection, but Corey Crawford got a shoulder on the ensuing backhanded bid.

The trio of Marian Hossa, Brad Richards and Bryan Bickell almost potted a goal late in the first period when Hossa broke from the defensive zone and sent the puck to Richards streaking up the middle of the ice. Richards dished it to Bickell along the boards entering the offensive zone, and he then sent it back to Richards, who had someone beaten all Anaheim defenders to the net. But Richards may have gotten in too tight to Andersen, and his shot was stopped.

Now everyone get your tin foil hats on for this next play.

What’s that Anaheim player doing? (Screenshot from YouTube)

You can see at the top of the screen Francois Beauchemin runing into the referee, giving Brandon Saad a free shorthanded bid down the wing. Ryan Kesler, the only man back as Anaheim was on the powerplay, failed miserably at stopping Saad from getting to Andersen, and Saad wristed the puck past Andersen to stake Chicago to a 1-0 lead and give the Blackhawks an always-important late-period goal.

“It’s highly likely, of course, that the referee intentionally blocked Beauchemin so the Blackhawks could have another Stanley Cup and so Emilio Estevez could never be happy again.” — probably some Ducks fans.

Anyway, the second period didn’t have much in the way of scoring chances, as a bid by Hampus Lindholm and rebound try by Matt Beleskey were both turned away by Crawford late in the middle frame. But Crow could only do so much as the clock wound down in that period and the Blackhawks repeatedly failed to clear their zone. Kyle Palmieri wound up with the puck right below the circles and sent a shot at Crow, which Emerson Etem manged to deflect past the goaltender to tie the contest.

Now we move on to the third period. It was as though someone told these squads they had a quota to meet for goals scored. Or maybe the Blackhawks thought the fans at the United Center wanted to cheer for something, and then the Ducks wanted it to stop.

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  • It all started less than three minutes into the period when the Ducks this time failed to clear their zone. Keith got the puck to Saad, who tipped it to Hossa for a slapper at the circles. The puck bounced around in front thanks to decent traffic, but Jonathan Toews would come up with it alongside Andersen. Toews outwaited the goaltender and roofed Chicago’s second goal of the game.

    Again the first line had something to say exactly five minutes later, as Saad tried to carry the puck from behind the net and attempt a spin-shot on Andersen. The puck squirted away from Saad, but it went right to Brent Seabrook, and Mr. Playoffs smashed a shot past everyone and into the twine to stake the Blackhawks to a 3-1 edge.

    So how did the Blackhawks respond to this newfound advantage? They proceeded to give up some goals. Some really, really quick goals.

    Just more than a minute after Seabrook’s strike, Jakob Silfverberg collected the puck in the corner to Crawford’s left and skated below the crease. He then dished the puck to the doorstep for a waiting Kesler, who one-timed it home while being knocked to the ice.

    So Chicago still has a one-goal lead, right? No biggie. Twenty-three seconds after Kesler’s goal, that lead was gone. A great stretch pass from the Anaheim defensive zone to Rickard Rakell saw the fourth-liner carry the puck into his offensive zone before losing it. Then, a mess of failed communication happened as Kimmo Timonen passed the puck to three Blackhawks, none of whom picked it up. Instead, Beleskey grabbed the loose rubber and wristed a shot high over Crawford’s right shoulder to knot the contest at three.

    Maybe no look better described what Blackhawks fans were going through at that moment than the look on this girl’s face:

    Time for another beer. (Screenshot from YouTube)

    Well, the lead is gone, but at least the Blackhawks weren’t losing, right? That was true … for all of 14 seconds.

    A furious Ducks forecheck saw Ryan Getzlaf receive the puck at the halfboards. He flung a backhander toward Crawford, where Perry was waiting as well. Perry won a battle with Keith and Crow, poking the puck around the latter to give the Ducks an improbable 4-3 lead less than two minutes after they had been trailing 3-1.

    Thankfully, after the Blackhawks fell off the horse, they got right back on.

    Silfverberg went to the box for the third period’s only penalty, and the Blackhawks got to work on a powerplay with less than eight minutes to play in regulation. A Richards shot from below the blue line saw the puck find the stick of Patrick Kane, who redirected it through Andersen’s legs to give us another tie.

    The Perry-Getzlaf-Patrick Maroon line went on the attack a short time later, and Crawford had to come up with a big shoulder save on Perry, after which some help from the post was also required. The Blackhawks had their own great chance before the period ended after Kane stole a puck in the defensive zone and flicked a sweet cross-ice pass to Bickell, creating a 2-on-1 with Richards. Bickell kept the puck and rang it off the crossbar, after which Clayton Stoner clumsily ran over a referee behind the net.

    Sami Vatanen and Andrew Cogliano had a great shot apiece less than three minutes into the first overtime, after which the Blackhawks somehow couldn’t convert on the game’s lone extra-time powerplay despite Toews and Andrew Shaw being right at the net after a Keith shot flew into the area.

    Andersen had to be at his best as time wore down in the first extra frame when Teuvo Teravainen made a nice pick at his defensive-zone blue line and threw the puck up ice to Patrick Sharp for a breakaway. Sharp was stoned by the glove hand of Andersen, however.

    It certainly seems at this point as though we’ve discussed almost every Blackhawks forward. Well, the guy who scored the game-winner hasn’t been mentioned yet … one of Q’s favorites, Antoine Vermette.

    Teravainen and Vermette each made a pass to keep the puck in the zone with about 5:30 off the clock in the second overtime. Sharp corralled the puck below the crease and fought off some Anaheim defenders before throwing the puck out toward the center of the zone. Vermette had circled around and had the puck glide right to him for a chance that was knocked down by some sprawling Ducks. But the puck again found Vermette after that, and this time the trade-deadline acquisition potted a shot high over the sprawling Andersen to end this one.

    It’s likely some people had to call off work the day after this game to get their heart rate down. Thankfully, the Blackhawks didn’t call off after they fell behind in a freakish couple minutes, and we had a tie series as a result.

    Previous entries

    No. 13 | No. 14 | No. 15 | No. 16 | No. 17 | No. 18 | No. 19 | No. 20 | No. 21 | No. 22 | No. 23 | No. 24 | No. 25 | No. 26 | No. 27 | No. 28 | No. 29 | No. 30 | No. 31 | No. 32 | No. 33 | No. 34 | No. 35 | No. 36 | No. 37 | No. 38 | No. 39 | No. 40 | No. 41 | No. 42 | No. 43 | No. 44 | No. 45 | No. 46 | 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

    Next: Quenneville Facing Toughest Season In Chicago

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