ANAHEIM, Calif. — Down two goals at the Honda Center with less than two minutes left?
The Blackhawks had the Anaheim Ducks right where they wanted them.
“With our skill, you’re never out of it,” Corey Crawford said.
The Ducks know that all too well. After 56 largely sluggish and sloppy minutes, Marian Hossa and Duncan Keith scored in the final two minutes to send the game to overtime, and Artem Anisimov scored the game-winner 1:53 into overtime as the Hawks delivered yet another gut-punch to the beleaguered Ducks in a stunning 3-2 victory. Brent Seabrook assisted on all three goals, including the primary helper on the tying and winning tallies.
It was reminiscent of Game 5 of the Western Conference final last spring, when Jonathan Toews scored twice in the final two minutes to send the game to overtime. The Ducks wound up winning that one in the opening minute of overtime, but the comeback shattered Anaheim goalie Frederik Andersen and set the stage for the Hawks’ come-from-behind win in the series.
“It reminded us of the comeback in Game 5 last year,” Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said. “With a better ending.”
In this one, it was John Gibson in net. He was two minutes away from his second shutout in as many career starts against the Hawks, but Ryan Getzlaf jabbed his stick into the back of Andrew Shaw’s knee in front of the Ducks net and was sent off for tripping. With a 6-on-4 advantage with Crawford pulled for an extra attacker, Hossa gave the Hawks life. Then, with 26.6 seconds left, Keith got the equalizer.
“We’ve got guys that went to the conference final last year that were on the ice,” Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau said. “We’ve got to have better composure when we get the puck. We’ve got to go to spots and make plays, and not just throw it to them. That’s what we ended up doing in the last two minutes — panicking and throwing it to them.”
Patrick Kane had the secondary assist on Keith’s goal, just barely extending his point streak to 18 games — tying Eddie Olczyk and Phil Kessel for the American record. He hasn’t scored a goal in the last five games, but has seven assists.
“You look at the players that are either American and have played the game, or the two guys that are a part of that record in Kessel and Olczyk, that’s some pretty elite company,” Kane said. “It’s been a fun little ride here. It seems like I’m kind of making it a little difficult on myself here the last few games.”
Added Crawford, who made 23 saves: “He could be the best American player of all time. He’s still young.”
It was a ridiculous ending after a rocky effort for the Hawks, and a near-perfect one for the Ducks, who got a goal 62 seconds into the game on an Andrew Cogliano breakaway and another from Chris Stewart on a broken play at 7:34 of the second. Gibson finished with 30 saves, including a Kane breakaway late in the second.
The bad blood between these two teams — who met in an epic seven-game Western Conference final last spring — was evident from the start. And late in the first period, Jonathan Toews dropped his gloves and wanted to fight longtime rival Ryan Kesler. It would have been Toews’ third fight of the month — he had just three in his first eight seasons — but officials stepped in and broke it up before the two could go at it.
“I’m not sure what really happened there,” Kane said. “It looked like a lot of slashing going on there to Jonny’s hands, and things like that. Jonny’s a competitive guy and wants to stick up for himself.”
It took a while for the Hawks to show the same fight, as their usual third-period push materialized late; they went 11 minutes before even getting a shot on goal in the final stanza. But better late than never — they got the two goals they needed at the end. These are the kinds of wins that the uncanny, unflappable Hawks seem to pull off more than most, and over the long haul of a regular season, they can make a huge difference in the standings.
“It feels like those games kind of even out [with] the ones where you’re supposed to win and you let go,” Crawford said. “Hopefully we get more of the ones where we come back and get those points. You definitely need them throughout the season. That was a pretty big confidence-builder to win like that.”