Chicago Blackhawks Clinch Third West Title In Six Years With Game 7 Victory Over Anaheim Ducks
The Chicago Blackhawks celebrate after winning their third western conference title in six years. Photo by Mark J. Terrill, AP.

After going up 4-0 in the second period, it looked like it was going to be a third period without much drama for the Blackhawks or the Anaheim Ducks. But with three goals in the last 21 minutes of the game, the Ducks gave it all they had, but their rally fell short as Chicago won, 5-3, to move on to the Stanley Cup Finals, where they will meet the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Captain Jonathan Toews got the show started quickly as he scored just 2:23 into the game off a rebound given up by Frederik Andersen. Niklas Hjalmarsson and Patrick Kane got the assists on the goal. Hjalmarsson blasted the initial shot in and Toews was Johnny-on-the-Spot to put it in. At the 11:55 mark of the first, on the power play, Toews scored again, assisted by Brad Richards and Duncan Keith for his ninth goal of the playoffs. Chicago took a 2-0 lead into after the first stanza.

Just 1:18 into the second period, Anaheim turned the puck over in their zone. It came to Patrick Kane, who passed to Brandon Saad who drilled it home on an empty net. Johnny Oduya forced the initial turnover which set up Kane and then Saad. Everything was going Chicago’s way and it continued as at the 13:45 mark Marian Hossa scored his fourth goal of the playoffs as his stick missed on a rebound, but it went off his skate into the net. The officials reviewed it, but it was determined he did not make a deliberate kicking motion, so the goal stood. After a frenzied end of the second in which both teams picked up penalties, Ryan Kesler gave the Ducks life with a goal that went just over the shoulder of Corey Crawford and into the net. Chicago took a 4-1 lead into the third.

After outplaying the Blackhawks in the second for the most part (more shots and more hits for the Ducks), Chicago controlled the pace in the third period. But they could not score for most of the period. Corey Perry got the Ducks within two goals as he scored his 10th postseason goal, assisted by Patrick Maroon and Ryan Getzlaf. Later, with Anaheim continuing to make their push, Hossa made a poke check to force a turnover and went down the ice and induced a hooking penalty on Cam Fowler. Chicago took advantage of the subsequent power play, with Brent Seabrook scoring his sixth playoff goal. Kane and Duncan Keith assisted. In the final minute, with an empty net, Matt Beleskey scored on a power play following a delay of game penalty by Johnny Oduya to make it 5-3, but it was too little too late. 

When the stakes are at the highest, Corey Crawford tends to play his best. He played well tonight, making saves on 35 of 38 shots for a .921 save percentage. Frederik Andersen did not, allowing five goals on just 26 shots faced.

The Blackhawks will play the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Stanley Cup Finals, with the series beginning on Wednesday night.

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