ANAHEIM, Calif. — Overtime games: they are not for the faint of heart.
Sometimes they drag, each team so afraid to make a mistake that each plays very cautious. Other times they’re riveting, as Tuesday night’s Game 2 against the Blackhawks and Anaheim Ducks was. But as the Blackhawks have done often in the past, they found a way to win a lengthy game. So before we call it a morning, let’s look at the Five Things to take from the Blackhawks’ 3-2 triple-overtime victory.
1. Don’t be pretty; just be there. It’s overtime: nobody is going to score a gorgeous goal. At least the odds aren’t in your favor. And despite the fact that he’s not known for a lot of scoring, there was something very appropriate about Marcus Kruger getting the game-winner. It was the type of goal that a blue-collar player would score, right near the net, with the puck hitting off his glove and then off his stick, and he did.
2. Well, at least he used his head. Following the game, Andrew Shaw could laugh about his disallowed head-directed goal from the second overtime. Still, it was humorous to see. Turns out, there are two NHL rules that say you can’t do that — hey, if you’re going to score a disallowed goal, get every nullification you can get. Said Shaw, “everyone’s always telling you to use your head when you’re out there. I just went and did that.”
3. Tremendous night for Corey Crawford. It was a goaltender’s night, regardless of team. But what an outing for Crawford, who stopped a career-best 60 of 62 shots he faced. The Ducks hit a few crossbars in the third period and overtimes, but Crawford got just about everything else. Said Crawford about some of those close calls, “there’s no real time to really think about [that]. Maybe when the play stops. It’s coming back again, so quick. I wasn’t really thinking. There were a few I thought might have trickled in but I don’t know. It’s a good win.”
[NBC SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]
4. Big minutes for big defensemen. OK, it was a triple-overtime game, so the time-on-ice for some was going to be staggering. The Blackhawks’ top four defensemen played 46 minutes (Johnny Oduya) to nearly 50 (Duncan Keith). That’s a lot and not surprising, given the lengthy game and how much we knew the Blackhawks would rely on those two with defensive changes. Coach Joel Quenneville, immediately after the game, wasn’t concerned. “One of those games the minutes look skewed, but it is what it is,” he said. “It’s a good test. But I think our team’s gone through that more than once and [will be] ready to get right back at it.”
5. Ducks bring the hit parade. The Ducks — again, a big number for a long game — were credited with 71 hits in Game 2. Their physical game was especially evident in the second period, when they were hitting everything in a Blackhawks uniform. Kimmo Timonen felt the brunt of several big hits. How will these hits affect the Blackhawks, especially those top four defensemen, as this series continues? That remains to be seen.