A pair of teams that have been on the short end of a number of Game 7’s met in the Western final Saturday as the Blackhawks played the Ducks in Anaheim. Chicago’s stars shone brighter in their 5-3 win. Here are 3 stories from Game 7.
Toews, Blackhawks come out flying
Game 7’s haven’t been good for either the Blackhawks or the Ducks in recent times but whatever pressure was being felt rolled off the hard-nosed Chicago leadership of captain Jonathan Toews, aka Captain Serious.
Toews scored just 2:23 into the game and then, again, on the power play 11:55 into the first period to give the Blackhawks all the momentum they would need to gain control of the contest.
Including his two third-period goals that tied Game 5 at the Honda Center before the Ducks won in overtime, it was four consecutive Chicago goals in Anaheim by the team captain. The Hawks won Game 6 in Chicago to send the series back to California and Toews set the pace that would determine the 5-3 Chicago victory.
He had great help from his running mate Patrick Kane who assisted on three scores in the deciding game, giving him five points in the last two wins by the Blackhawks that sent them to the Stanley Cup final for the third time in seven seasons.
Boudreau, Ducks can’t finish deal
For head coach Bruce Boudreau and his Ducks, it was a playoff hat trick that you don’t want to have on your resume. Boudreau ran his coaching record in Game 7’s to 1-6 with the loss and it’s the third time in a row that the Ducks held 3-2 leads in the series and then lost the final two games, each time with the Game 7 defeat coming in Anaheim.
In 2013 it was against Detroit, followed by Los Angeles in the second round last year. Boudreau’s only Game 7 win came in 2009 when he was with the Washington Capitals.
Trailing 3-0 in the second period, this goal by Marian Hossa typified the kind of evening it was for the Ducks.
It was ruled a good goal with “no distinct kicking motion.” But as Hockey Night in Canada commentator Paul Romanuk exclaimed, “It was a kick in the gut for the Ducks.”
Anaheim valiantly tried to make a game of it with a late second-period score by Ryan Kesler and then another goal midway through the third period by Corey Perry but Brent Seabrook restored control for the Blackhawks with his late marker that provided another three-goal advantage.
Waiting in the wings
After 20 games and three series, two of which went to a seventh game, the Tampa Bay Lightning received a day of respite Saturday as they were able to watch the Blackhawks and Ducks do battle to see which one would advance to the Stanley Cup final against the Lightning, beginning Wednesday, June 4.
The Lightning were able to come from behind to defeat the Red Wings, continue their season-long domination of the Canadiens with a six-game triumph and win three times at Madison Square Garden en route to their victory over the Rangers to reach the Cup final for the second time in their history. Their first trip there, in 2004, resulted in the first NHL title awarded to a Florida team.
The last vision the Lightning provided in Friday’s 2-0 win over the Rangers was the ever-dangerous Triplet line putting the game out of reach on a goal by Ondrej Palat, set up by the speed of Tyler Johnson.
The Lightning, naturally wouldn’t admit which of the two Western Conference finalists they would have preferred to meet. During the regular season they were 1-0-0 against the Blackhawks, with Ben Bishop shutting them out 4-0, while Steven Stamkos scored a pair. They were 2-0-0 versus the Ducks, winning 5-3 in Tampa as Brian Boyle scored a pair of goals, and then 4-1 at Anaheim when they overcame a deficit on the strength of four second-period goals, the final three by Johnson, Nikita Kucherov and Stamkos.
Blackhawks, it is. Game 1: Wednesday, June 3, on CBC, CBCSports.ca, 8 p.m. ET.