By Jon Fromi
After wresting home ice advantage from the Anaheim Ducks Tuesday night, the Chicago Blackhawks gave it right back to their Western Conference Final opponent. Thursday, Frederik Andersen and the Ducks came out and made a pair of goals stand up. Anaheim took a 2-1 series lead with a 2-1 Game 3 victory at the United Center.
First Period-The Hawks came out strong early, with Corey Perry making a sprawling play to prevent a scoring chance by Joakim Nordstrom. Corey Crawford had to make a quick stop at the 2:45 mark when Kyle Cumiskey’s pass was picked off by Jiri Sekac and sent to the net. Ryan Kesler took advantage of a muffed pass attempt by Brent Seabrook late in the fourth minute to make a beeline for Crawford. He couldn’t get the puck settled and the shot was wide.
Perry tripped Johnny Oduya 5:39 into the period to set up the man advantage. Chicago couldn’t convert and Kesler got a shot on goal as the penalty expired.
Niklas Hjalmarsson struck the post in the ninth minute. Brandon Saad got the puck to the net for Jonathan Toews to redirect but Frederik Andersen turned the biscuit away. Soon after, Kesler held the Hawks captain and gave the Blackhawks another shot at the power play. It took a while for Chicago to get set up in the Ducks zone. Marian Hossa had a chance from the right circlewas called for a hold of Ryan Getzlaf after Andersen came up with the save.
Shortly after 4-on-4 time ended, Anaheim gained entry into the Hawks zone and got the puck out to Hampus Lindholm. His shot was redirected by Patrick Maroon and under Crawford’s pads for a 1-0 Ducks lead 12:55 into the opening frame.
Chicago received an opportunity to even the score 41 seconds later when Toews was cut by the stick of Jakob Silfverberg. The Hawks managed just a single shot on goal until the waning seconds when Patrick Kane got a puck to the net and Toews and Shaw took whacks at the rebound. The Ducks goalie prevented the rubber from crossing the line and Chicago came up empty-handed.
Late in the period, Kane struck for the first time in the series. Hjalmarsson got the play started by chipping a clearing attempt along the halfboards for Brad Richards, who skated into Anaheim ice and fed Kane in the slot. As he was getting the puck under control, Kane spun toward his backhand side and flipped it over the stick of a stunned Andersen to knot the game at a goal apiece with 57 seconds remaining.
Chicago nearly took the lead on a late chance from Saad but the Hawks had to settle for a tie game heading into the first intermission.
Second Period-The teams traded chances in the opening minute before Perry got around Hjalmarsson at the left circle. He managed to fire a shot as he fell to the ice that Crawford saved. The Hawks goalie was busy early in the period, stopping eight shots in the first three minutes.
Anaheim continued to tee off in the Blackhawks zone for the bulk of the first ten minutes. Toews generated a Hawks chance at the 9:19 mark with a steal on the fore check but Andersen was able to come up with the pad save on the shot attempt. Emerson Etem took a pass from Sekac and found himself with an open net from the left circle but was just wide with the shot.
The Hawks got an odd man rush in the 14th minute but Kris Versteeg’s shot was met by Andersen’s right pad. Andersen gloved an Oduya shot for a stoppage on Chicago’s next trip up the ice.
With five minutes left in the middle stanza, Chicago finally began to log some sustained time in the offensive zone. Saad backhanded a rebound of an Oduya shot but the puck failed to find the mark. The Blackhawks had numbers a couple of times in the final minutes of the period but Andersen was there with the stops. Saad walked the puck into the slot with 1:24 to go but the shot died in Andersen’s glove.
The Ducks came back the other was with a 2-on-1 that was halted by Crawford. Anaheim kept the puck in the Hawks zone on the resulting face off, worked the puck around the ice and scored when Getzlaf set up Simon Despres for a one-timer from the right dot. The shot beat Crawford coming across the crease and lit the lamp with 54 seconds remaining. The Ducks went to the locker room with a 2-1 advantage after 40 minutes.
Third Period-Chicago was active on the offensive end in the first couple of minutes. Andersen had to make a couple of blocker saves on shots by Richards and Patrick Sharp. Richards, Kane and Bickell had a strong shift in the fifth minute that yielded a couple of shots.
Shaw was caught by the stick blade of Getzlaf with 5:02 into the period to give the Hawks a chance to tie the game. Chicago failed to register a shot on Andersen and Anaheim killed the penalty.
Kane drove to the front of the net after catching up to a flip into the Ducks zone by Hjalmarsson but Andersen knocked the puck away. The Ducks took their timeout with 10:36 left.
Kesler and Keith got tangled up in the corner of the Hawks zone near the midway point of the period. They were sent to the box for a hold and a slash, respectively. The action in the 4-on-4 session was back and forth but yielded little in the way of shots.
Time was becoming a factor once the teams returned to full strength. The sellout house at the Madhouse tried to bolster the home team heading into the final five minutes. With two minutes remaining and an offensive zone face off looming, Chicago coach Joel Quenneville brought Crawford to the bench. The Ducks iced the puck a couple of times but the Blackhawks found it difficult to get the puck into a scoring area.
Hossa got off a slap shot from the left dot that resulted in a rebound but no payoff. Quenneville called his timeout after Andersen gloved another Hossa attempt. Chicago lost the offensive zone but had one last gasp with seven seconds left. Toews got the puck on Kane’s stick and he split the defense on his way to the net. Despres got his stick into a position that kept Kane from a full follow through. The shot was knocked into the corner by Andersen; that’s where the clock ran out on the Blackhawks.
Three Stars-Kane (third), Getzlaf (second), Andersen (first).
-The pace of the game was certainly not hindered by the late hours kept by the two squads Tuesday/Wednesday.
-If I understand it correctly, the more games Kimmo Timonen starts in the playoffs, the better the conditional draft pick that goes back to the Flyers. As the veteran continues to play a thimble full of minutes (just 6:50 Thursday), that trade figures to get worse and worse for the Blackhawks.
-Crawford was solid but Andersen was the best goalie on the ice Thursday. Crow made 25 of 27 save chances but it just wasn’t enough. The Ducks blocked 27 Chicago shots to help their man in net, but Andersen made the big saves, especially in the third period.
-The Hawks really had trouble getting through neutral ice for large stretches in the first two periods. The rush was improved in the third but Chicago couldn’t sneak one past Andersen.
-Perry had a pretty nice game at both ends of the ice. He really set the tone for the Ducks defensive effort. Whether he was parked in front of Crawford, getting a new stick on the fly on a rush to the net or coming up with a takeaway in his own zone, he was a thorn in the Hawks side all evening.
-Paging the Chicago power play…paging the Chicago power play. Please pick up the yellow courtesy phone. And get some pucks to the net. Special teams success (or lack of it) was the difference in the outcome Thursday.
-Kane’s goal came on his only credited shot of the night. He got banged around pretty good by Perry and company and lost the handle of a couple pucks, though he did have a couple of nice passes that could have resulted in the equalizer.
-So much for home ice. The Blackhawks try and even the series at the United Center Saturday night. Puck is scheduled to drop at 7:00 p.m.