Chicago’s Duncan Keith had three assists and saved a goal in the third period as the Blackhawks beat Anaheim 5-2 on Wednesday to force Game 7 in the NHL Western Conference finals.
The Blackhawks’ biggest stars stepped up during a key stretch in the second period, led by another terrific all-round performance for Keith. Shaking off the Ducks’ plan to wear down Chicago’s top four defensemen, Keith had his fourth multipoint game of the playoffs.
“He’s kind of a freak as far as his metabolism and conditioning level,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “The more he plays, the more efficient, the more he gets going.”
Andrew Shaw had two goals late in the third, sending the Ducks to their first regulation loss of the playoffs. Brandon Saad, Marian Hossa and Patrick Kane also scored for Chicago, while Corey Crawford made 30 saves.
Next up for the NHL playoffs is a double dip of Game 7s to determine which teams will play for the Stanley Cup. The New York Rangers host the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Eastern Conference decider today, while the Blackhawks and Ducks meet in Anaheim tomorrow.
It is only the second time in the expansion era since the 1967-1968 playoffs that each of the conference finals required a Game 7.
“One group is going to go home and one group’s going to go play for the Stanley Cup,” Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau said. “There’s really not a lot you can leave on the table.”
The Ducks and Blackhawks were both eliminated from last season’s playoffs in game 7s, and both at the hands of Los Angeles.
“I remember the feeling after we lost that game. We definitely don’t want that feeling again,” Kane said.
Patrick Maroon and Clayton Stoner scored for the Ducks, while Frederik Andersen made 18 saves.
Anaheim got a lucky call when Jakob Silfverberg brushed up against Crawford’s glove on Stoner’s first goal of the playoffs 1 minute, 57 seconds into the third, trimming Chicago’s lead to 3-2. There was no call on the play and Crawford threw up his hands in exasperation.
However, Crawford quickly put the play behind him, defying the Ducks as they made a frantic push for the tying goal. He got some help from Keith, who swept a shot away from the goal line.
“It’s unbelievable,” Shaw said. “He’s one of those athletes who digs down and finds that extra step.”
Shaw finally gave the Blackhawks some breathing room when he beat Andersen with a nifty backhander high into the net with 3 minutes, 32 seconds left. Andrew Desjardins made a nice hustle play to get the puck over to Shaw for his third playoff goal.
Shaw then added an empty-netter in the final minute as Chicago improved to 7-1 at home in the playoffs.
“We chased the game a little bit tonight and we let them dictate the second period,” Ducks center Ryan Kesler said. “They scored three quick ones. It’s tough to come back from three goals. We gave it a shot there.”
The Blackhawks opened the scoring in the second period when Keith made a long pass ahead to Kane, who touched it to a streaking Saad.
The team with the first goal has won each of the first six games of the series.
Keith connected with Hossa for a score at 10 minutes, 41 seconds, patiently waiting while the winger got open for the other side of the net. He then got his 14th assist of the playoffs when Kane made a dazzling move to get past Matt Beleskey and squeeze a shot past Andersen with 7 minutes, 52 seconds left in the second.
Keith played 28 minutes, 30 seconds. He leads the NHL in ice time for the playoffs.
“I’ve always taken pride in working out and training,” he said. “When I was younger, I was never a big guy, I’m still not the biggest guy. It’s a way to try and maybe even the playing field in some ways.”
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