ANAHEIM, Calif. — It was looking like the Blackhawks were going to pull another rabbit out of the hat, wasn’t it?
We’ve seen this movie before: Blackhawks find a way to get to overtime, Blackhawks play extended overtimes and Blackhawks win in overtime. But on Monday, the script was flipped, and quickly. The Ducks got an odd-man rush and cashed in, with Matt Beleskey’s rebound goal giving them a 5-4 victory just 45 seconds into overtime.
Now the Blackhawks are up against it, facing elimination when they host Game 6 on Wednesday night. Will they stave it off and force a Game 7? Will they learn from their mistakes, especially all of those committed in the first period? We’ll find that out on Wednesday. Until then, let’s look at the Five Things to take from the Ducks’ Game 5 victory over the Blackhawks.
1. Have to start better than that. For all the talk of urgency and getting off to a strong start, the Blackhawks were absent in the first 20 minutes. It was awful. They were awful. All comebacks aside, the Blackhawks had no excuses for their start, in which they got just three shots — and those came in the final 3:37 of the period — and trailed 3-0. Said Patrick Sharp, “Crucial game in their building, we know they’re going to come out with some pace and put a lot of pucks on net. They certainly did that and we weren’t ready to start the game.”
2. Don’t doubt Jonathan Toews. Entering Game 4, Toews still didn’t have a goal in this series. In the final 1:50 on Monday night, he scored twice to force the game to overtime. That’s what your top players do: they find a way. While that second goal was a terrible one for Frederik Andersen to give up — bad angle, off his leg — full marks to Toews for giving the Blackhawks a chance.
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3. Teuvo Teravainen providing a jolt. The forward shrugged off his Game 3 healthy scratch status, scoring a goal and an assist in Game 5. Teravainen could have been overwhelmed by the NHL playoff stage, this being his first time on it. Instead he’s been poised, and was part of a strong third line with Sharp and Antoine Vermette. “I’m confident. I’m a lot more confident out there [on the ice] than in the media right here,” Teravainen said to laughs. “That’s a good thing.”
4. Another three-goal period against the Blackhawks. The first period was the seventh — yes, seventh — time this postseason that the Blackhawks have given up three goals in a period. That’s not good. Again, good on the Blackhawks for coming back but they’re putting themselves in this position too often. Said Quenneville, “we have to kill that.”
5. [Post]season on the brink. Well, it comes to this: for all the times the Blackhawks call games “must-win,” Wednesday’s game truly is that. As Toews said, they’ve faced series deficits before and play their best when faced with critical situations. They need that on Wednesday, and they need it from the start this time.