The NHL conference finals are providing springtime the drama that the NBA has mostly failed to give us. The New York Rangers and Chicago Blackhawks each tied up their series at 2-2, with the Blackhawks again going multiple overtimes to get the W, and this time turning back a stunning third period surge from Anaheim.
Chicago had just gotten what seemed like an insurance goal with 12:22 left to take a 3-1 lead. The Blackhawks had mostly controlled the flow of play with the lone exception of a sustained Duck attack late in the second period that produced their only goal. Then the madness started.
Anaheim quickly got a goal from Ryan Kesler to make it a game. Twenty-three seconds later, a foolish Blackhawk turnover led to a tying Duck goal from Matt Beleskey. While the turnover was bad and Beleskey’s shot a beautiful rocket to the upper left corner of the goal, it’s also fair to say that Chicago goalie Corey Crawford should have made the play. Nothing was blocking his vision.
Fourteen seconds later a goal that Crawford can’t be blamed for put Anaheim ahead. Two great players, Chicago’s Duncan Keith and Anaheim’s Corey Perry were positioned in front of the net as a shot went on goal. It was akin two basketball players fighting for position in the low post.
As Crawford made the save, Perry won the battle and got inside, able to poke in the puck on the opposite side of the net. Just an outstanding play from an outstanding player and the Ducks had the lead.