Game 7 gives Ducks chance to rewrite last year's story


Game 7 gives Ducks chance to rewrite last year's story

All season, the Anaheim Ducks talked about having a do-over in the postseason after letting a 3-2 series lead slip away to the Los Angeles Kings last year and falling in Game 7 at home.

Now, they'll have a chance to rewrite the story.

The Ducks are headed back to Anaheim with their season on the line after failing to put away the Blackhawks on Wednesday night. And they're going back home more confident than the last time they played in a win or go home situation.

"I think last year's Game 7 we were a bunch of Nervous Nellies," Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau said following a 5-2 loss in Game 6. "Hopefully that happened in Game 6 and won't carry over to Game 7."

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

As if the task isn't tough enough, the Ducks will be looking to right the wrong against a Blackhawks team hoping to do the same after coming up a goal short from back-to-back Stanley Cup Final appearances a year ago against those same Kings.

One of the team's endings will turn out differently, and if it aren't the Ducks, they may look back at the missed opportunities early in Game 6.

The Ducks were rewarded with a power play in the opening minutes of the game, and held the Blackhawks — who struggled coming out of the gates for the second consecutive contest — to zero shots on goal in the first seven and a half minutes.

But the Ducks couldn't capitalize, and it came back to haunt them after the Blackhawks poured on three goals in a span of 3:45 in the second period.

[MORE: Duncan Keith's freak' effort lifts #Blackhawks in Game 6 win]

"I thought the tension was there a little bit, and it started with me," Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf said. "I was terrible tonight."

The Ducks eventually got two of them back, displaying the resiliency that has gotten them this far.

But in the end, a three-goal deficit proved to be too much of a hole to climb out of, even for these Ducks.

“I think we chased the game a little bit too much tonight," forward Ryan Kesler said. "I think we let them dictate the second period. They score three quick ones, it’s tough to come back."

It applied to the Blackhawks in Game 6, but now it applies to both teams: it's do or die time. Both teams have been here before — although it's Anaheim's first this postseason — and both teams know what it takes to win.

For the Ducks, they just need to prove it.

"It’s going to take every guy in the room. We just need to go out there and outwork them," forward Kyle Palmieri said. "It’s going to be on our home ice in front of our fans. It is Game 7 to go to the Stanley Cup Final, so if you don’t bring your game then I don’t know what to say."

Getzlaf echoed those sentiments when asked how the Ducks can make sure this year's outcome is different from last year's.

"Get ready to play," he said.

Blackhawks make sports history with fifth straight overtime game to start season

Blackhawks make sports history with fifth straight overtime game to start season

The Blackhawks made sports history on Saturday after they appeared in their fifth straight overtime game to start the season.

No NHL team has done that since the league introduced a regular-season overtime period in 1983-84, per the Elias Sports Bureau. It also has never happened in the history of MLB, NBA or NFL, showing just how crazy this early season run has been for the Blackhawks, who have rallied from all five games and have come away with wins in three of them.

"We’ve had five games, every one of them have been extremely intense and the game’s been on the line from start to finish," coach Joel Quenneville said following a 4-3 overtime win over the St. Louis Blues. "Our group’s been competitive this year, the guys have been working hard for one another. I don’t know how many games we’ve been down in the third period, and coming back to win is special."

The Blackhawks appeared in 17 overtime/shootout games last season and won seven of them. They are one of six teams this season that have yet to pick up a regulation win.

On a separate note, Saturday marked the eighth time in Blackhawks history that one player scored a tying goal in the third period and scored in overtime (Alex DeBrincat), according to the NHL's PR department. It's the second time it's happened this year for the Blackhawks, with Jonathan Toews the other on Oct. 6 against St. Louis.

Four takeaways: Alex DeBrincat salvages divisional game for Blackhawks in overtime on Duncan Keith’s special night

Four takeaways: Alex DeBrincat salvages divisional game for Blackhawks in overtime on Duncan Keith’s special night

Here are four takeaways from the Blackhawks' 4-3 overtime win over the St. Louis Blues at the United Center on Saturday night:

1. Special night for Duncan Keith — and Brent Seabrook

The Blackhawks celebrated Keith's 1,000-game milestone in the perfect way. Every player wore a No. 2 jersey during warmups, his family was on the ice for the pregame ceremony, and Patrick Sharp made an appearance to present Keith with a silver stick. Seabrook was also paired with Keith among the starters, a great touch by Joel Quenneville and the coaching staff.

But it was also a historic day for Keith's partner and close friend Seabrook, who became the franchise leader in games played by a defenseman, surpassing Bob Murray who previously held that mark at 1,008. It's only fitting Keith and Seabrook shared that moment together.

"We've been riding shotgun together for our whole careers," Keith said. "I couldn't imagine my career, my 1,000 games without him and all the experiences and memories that I've had winning and even losing, and the fun times we've had off the ice. I owe a lot of my success, and I think the team does as well, to Brent and what he means to the team and what he brings to our friendship and as a teammate."

To put a bow on the game, Keith had a vintage Keith moment on the game-tying goal in the third period when he intercepted a pass in the neutral zone on his backhand, then fed Toews a dart leading him into the offensive zone that set up DeBrincat's goal. 

2. Alex DeBrincat's torrid start

The Blackhawks continued to get contributions from their top players such as Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews, both of whom extended their point streaks to five games to open the season. But DeBrincat has propelled himself into that conversation as a top player on this team.

He had a multi-goal effort for the second straight game, upping his goal total on the season to a team-leading six. His overtime winner is the first of his NHL career in that fashion.

DeBrincat didn't score his sixth goal until Nov. 12 last season, which was the 18th game. And he still finished with 28. While it's hard to envision him continuing to score at more than a goal-per-game pace, it's not hard to see him continuing to be one of the best players on the ice and generating offense and scoring chances on a nightly basis.

"I think I'm getting pretty lucky right now," DeBrincat said. "I'm playing with [Toews] and [Dominik] Kahun, they're making great plays and getting me the puck. It's pretty easy when you have those guys as your linemates. Even on that last goal, [Erik Gustafsson] made a great pass backdoor to me. Pretty easy tap in."

3. Squandering another two-goal lead

The Blackhawks took a 2-0 lead for the third straight game. And they squandered it for the third straight game, in large part because they committed five straight penalties in the second and third periods.

It's no longer a blip at this point and is becoming an alarming trend, even though the Blackhawks have come back to force overtime in each of those three games. That will be something the Blackhawks work on all season long.

But Quenneville would have liked to have seen the Blackhawks keep their foot on the gas pedal and cash in on their opportunities to make it a 3-0 game.

"Score the third goal," he said. "I loved the way we were playing. We had a lot of good things going. Eventually they’re going to get chances, get opportunities. But we had some great chances to get it to three. It was one of those nights, every game is kind of different how the leads changed."

4. Brotherly love

For the first time in the NHL, the Schmaltz brothers finally got their chance to go up against each other at the highest level. There had been a handful of other opportunities in the past, but it never lined up for a variety of reasons. 

They didn't see much of each other while on the ice — they were on together for only 1:30 of the game — but Nick did commit a penalty that led to Jordan assisting on the Blues' first goal on a delayed call. 

The best battles between Jordan, who turned 25 on Oct. 8, and Nick, 22, came when they were kids.

"We had a little roller rink downstairs in our house growing up," Nick said. "It would be me vs. my sister (Kylie) and my brother. Those were probably the best battles. Someone would usually come up crying or high-stick or puck to the face or something like that. A lot of good memories. Looking back at it, it was awesome to have that and work on each other’s game and push each other to get better."