Ducks 5, Chicago Blackhawks 4 (end of first overtime)
The Ducks are one game away from reaching the Stanley Cup Final.
They got to that position in a wild roller-coaster fashion, in overtime. Unlike the other two overtime games this series, it ended quickly.
Left wing Matt Beleskey scored on a rebound just 45 seconds into overtime to push the Ducks past Chicago, 5-4, on Monday night at Honda Center in Game 5 of the Western Conference finals.
The Ducks lead the best-of-seven series, three games to two.
Game 6 is on Wednesday at United Center in Chicago.
Ducks 4, Chicago Blackhawks 4 (end of third period)
That hardly bothered Chicago's captain Jonathan Toews who scored a wildly improbable goal from along the goal line, deep in the left corner. Somehow, it got past Ducks goalie Frederik Andersen with 37.2 seconds remaining, tying the game, 4-4, on Monday night at Honda Center
And so, Game 5 heads to overtime. This is the third game in the Western Conference final to go past regulation.
Toews was the man responsible with his statement third period. Actually it was a statement two minutes.
He scored twice with less than two minutes remaining in regulation, both goals coming with Blackhawk goalie Corey Crawford pulled for an extra attacker. The first of his two goals came at 18:10, a one-timer off a pass from Marian Hossa, to pull Chicago within one.
Textbook Toews, showing the will and determination of a captain.
Ducks 4, Chicago Blackhawks 3 (1:50 left in third period)
Chicago was able to get goalie Corey Crawford off the ice for an extra attacker and pulled to 4-3 as captain Jonathan Toews beat Ducks goalie Frederik Andersen with a one-timer at 18:10.
The assists went to forward Marian Hossa and defenseman Duncan Keith. It was the sixth goal of the postseason for Toews.
Ducks 4, Chicago Blackhawks 2 (5:15 left in third period)
Tension was finally eased -- a tad -- for the Ducks' fans at Honda Center when the Ducks extended their lead to 4-2.
It came off a nice passing play, at 14:45, and was finished off by Patrick Maroon. The assists went to defenseman Sami Vatanen and captain Ryan Getzlaf.
For Getzlaf, it was his second assist of the night and 19th point of the postseason.
For Maroon, it was his sixth goal of the playoff, second only behind teammate Corey Perry's nine goals. Left wing Matt Beleskey also has six goals in the postseason.
Anaheim opened the third with two excellent scoring chances -- by Matt Beleskey and Corey Perry -- and then the Ducks penalty killers went to work.
Defenseman Clayton Stoner was called for hooking Patrick Sharp at 1:43. The Ducks killed it off.
Despite that, Chicago has had the run of play since then.
Ducks 3, Chicago Blackhawks 2 (end of second period)
Settle in for a massive third period.
The Blackhawks grabbed the momentum in the second period and held on tight, scoring twice to cut the Ducks' lead to 3-2 with goals by forward Teuvo Teravainen and defenseman Brent Seabrook.
Seabrook scored from the base of the right circle with 24.8 seconds left in the second period, off a nice setup from Teravainen, who has two points so far. His first was a goal, coming at 1:11 of the second.
All season, the Ducks have found the second period to be problematic. And it was again.
They had five shots on goal in the second and didn't have one until the 9:14 mark.
About midway through the period, the Ducks got another power-play opportunity but did little with it. Chicago was penalized for too many men on the ice, at 9:57.
That was an issue with Chicago during the season.
The Blackhawks were penalized for that 13 times during the regular season, second most in the league behind Vancouver, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
Of note, with his first-period assist, Getzlaf matched a franchise record for most points in a playoff run. It was his 18th point and he equaled his own club record, set in 2009.
Ducks 3, Chicago Blackhawks 1 (18:49 left in second period)
Chicago got a much-needed lift when Ducks goalie Frederik Andersen gave up a soft goal to Blackhawks youngster Teuvo Teravainen, a wrist shot beating Andersen between the pads, at 1:11.
It was just the fourth shot on goal for the Blackhawks and cut Anaheim's lead to 3-1.
The assists went to Antoine Vermette and Patrick Sharp. Teravainen and Vermette, in fact, were healthy scratches for Game 3, a highly questionable lineup decision by Quenneville. Vermette scored the winner in double overtime in Saturday's Game 4.
In the first period, Teravainen and Sharp were the only Chicago skaters not a minus on the plus-minus scale.
Ducks 3, Chicago Blackhawks 0 (end of first period)
OK, so the Ducks needed a bit longer than 37 seconds to score three goals.
They pulled that feat off in Game 4 and ended up losing in double overtime.
On Monday, they got off to an inspired start, scoring twice in 32 seconds and adding another before the end of the first period to lead 3-0.
Scoring for the Ducks were defenseman Cam Fowler (second of the playoffs), center Ryan Kesler (sixth) and defenseman Sami Vatanen (third).
For the two defensemen, it was their first goals since the first round against Winnipeg.
Chicago didn't muster much of a response and didn't record a shot on goal until captain Jonathan Toews recorded one until there was only 3:34 left in the period.
The Ducks outshot the Blackhawks, 11-3. Fowler, incidentally, led the Ducks in ice time, playing 8:48. For Chicago, defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson played 10:13.
Ducks 3, Chicago Blackhawks 0 (5:23 left in first period)
The Ducks expanded their lead at 14:37, going up, 3-0.
It started with a textbook faceoff by captain Ryan Getzlaf. Getzlaf won the faceoff clean against Chicago center Marcus Kruger in the right circle and defenseman Sami Vatanen scored on a blast from the point. For Vatanen, it was his third goal of the playoffs.
Chicago eventually did get a shot on goal, by the way. It came at 16:26 from Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews.
Chicago was able to stem the tide ... for a bit.
The Ducks went on the power play at 10:18 when Chicago defenseman Brent Seabrook went off for cross checking Jiri Sekac. Anaheim had a couple of excellent looks during the man advantage but couldn't convert.
The Ducks had three shots on goal on the power play.
Another stat, of note. Through the first 14 minutes, the Blackhawks had no shots on goal.
Yes, no shots on goal. Stay tuned.
Ducks 2, Chicago Blackhawks 0 (14:18 left in first period)
The Ducks got off to about as perfect a start as possible, scoring two goals in the opening 5 minutes 42 seconds of the game, on consecutive shots against Chicago goalie Corey Crawford.
They scored twice in the span of 32 seconds. Defenseman Cam Fowler opened up the scoring at 5:10 and center Ryan Kesler followed at 5:42. Chicago Coach Joel Quenneville promptly took his time out after the Kesler goal, which came on a nifty deflection from the left circle.
It was his sixth goal of the playoffs.
Fowler made it 1-0 with his shot from the slot as center Nate Thompson did the heavy lifting, digging the puck out of the corner to find Fowler.
Ducks Coach Bruce Boudreau was in full change-up mode, tweaking the lines.
He dropped left wing Matt Beleskey to the fourth line with Rickard Rakell and right wing Kyle Palmieri. The third line offered a different look, too, as Thompson centered Jiri Sekac and Andrew Cogliano.
It appears as though the Ducks will be making at least one lineup change for Game 5. The Ducks will start forward Tomas Fleischmann with center Ryan Kesler and forward Jakob Silfverberg.
That means forward Emerson Etem, who has three goals this postseason, will be the odd-man out.
You can study the stats but there is the one: the Fleischmann Factor. The Ducks are 4-0 in the playoffs with him.
The versatile forward stepped in and shifted to center for the final two games of the Winnipeg series. And he also played the final two games against Calgary in the second round, Game 4 and Game 5.
His teammates call him, "Flash." He didn't mind it when one reporter suggested another one, "The Closer" before Game 4 in Calgary.
"I'll take that nickname," said the Ducks forward, who was raised in the Czech Republic.
Minutes away from puck drop for Game 5 of the tightly contested Western Conference final between the Ducks and Blackhawks.
Tightly contested, of course, is something of an understatement in this series.
The series is tied 2-2 and it is a given that it will head back to Chicago for Game 6 on Wednesday at United Center.
A victory tonight would put the Ducks within one game of the Stanley Cup Final. This is the best they've done in the playoffs since they won the Cup in 2007. Chicago, which lost to the Kings in Game 7 in the Conference final last year, is looking to take its first lead of the series. The Blackhawks' two wins in this series have come after regulation, triple overtime in Game 2 and double overtime in Game 4.
Here are some more stats to ponder:
Chicago has been on the power play 17 times this series, while the Ducks have had the man advantage nine times. The difference was striking in Game 3 and Game 4 as the Blackhawks had nine power plays to the Ducks' three.
The hitting has been tenacious with the Ducks leading, 220-116, in that department.
"No human can withstand that many hits," said Ducks center Ryan Kesler.
The Blackhawks disagreed, naturally.
"I haven't seen a problem yet," said Chicago Coach Joel Quenneville in his media session on Monday afternoon. "We've had some teams that like to hit, like to get after us physically.
"To me, as long as you don't get distracted to where you got to go to be successful, let's make sure we keep doing what we've been doing."