Anaheim’s Matt Beleskey scored just 45 seconds into overtime to give the Ducks a 3-2 win against Chicago on Monday to take a 3-2 lead in the NHL Western Conference finals.
Chicago captain Jonathan Toews scored two stunning goals in 72 seconds late in regulation to force overtime, but his efforts were in vain as Beleskey barreled into the crease and scored on a rebound of Ryan Kesler’s shot, flying through the air in celebration.
Kesler and Sami Vatanen had a goal and an assist apiece for the Ducks, who moved to the brink of their first trip to the Stanley Cup final since 2007.
Goaltender Corey Crawford made 23 saves for the Blackhawks, who had won four overtime games already in this postseason, including two in this series. They had all the momentum heading to overtime after Toews’ twin strikes silenced the crowd at the Honda Center — until Beleskey swooped in.
Game 6 is today in Chicago.
Cam Fowler and Kesler scored 32 seconds apart in a three-goal first period for the Ducks. Patrick Maroon scored with 5 minutes, 15 seconds to play before Toews’ heroics.
Teuvo Teravainen and Brent Seabrook scored in the second period for Chicago, who had won the previous seven occasions they went into a Game 5 with the series tied.
The teams combined for a six-goal third period in Game 4, and they put together another memorable finish in a high-level playoff series already featuring two multi-overtime games.
After Maroon appeared to wrap it up for Anaheim, Toews scored with 1 minute, 50 seconds left with goaltender Crawford pulled for an extra skater, and he did it again with 37.2 seconds left on a sharp-angled shot that somehow got through Ducks goaltender Frederik Andersen, who made 24 saves. The Dane had been superb in postseason until allowing two awful goals in Game 5, including the tying howler.
However, the Ducks came out of the dressing room with fire and swiftly made the decisive rush at Crawford, who put a rebound straight onto Beleskey’s stick for his seventh goal of the postseason.
The Blackhawks must now win two straight to reach their third Stanley Cup final in six seasons.
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