By Adam Brady
Having endured another heart-wrenching overtime loss last night in Chicago, the Ducks returned to Orange County this afternoon a tired bunch focused on bouncing back in Game 5.
The Ducks are just a day removed from suffering an agonizing 5-4 defeat in double overtime to the Blackhawks in Game 4 at United Center, wasting a three-goal barrage in the third period that was the second-fastest in Stanley Cup Playoff History.
Faced with a 3-1 deficit in the middle of the third, Anaheim reeled off goals from Ryan Kesler, Matt Beleskey and Corey Perry in a head-spinning span of 37 seconds to take the lead. But Chicago rallied back on a Patrick Kane power play goal with 7:21 left, and Antoine Vermette won it 5:37 into the second overtime.
It was the second time in the last three games of the Western Conference Final (including a triple-OT loss in Game 2) that Anaheim ended up on the losing side of a marathon game. But the Ducks remain confident they can bounce back like they have so many times this season.
“I don’t personally worry,” said Ducks defenseman Francois Beauchemin this afternoon. “We haven’t lost yet in regulation in the playoffs, and we’re doing good things. Last night was one of those nights where we had some breakdowns defensively, and we need to correct those. Overall, our game has been pretty solid through the playoffs. This is the way we wanted to play. We need to stay positive.”
Beauchemin, Kesler and captain Ryan Getzlaf were among the Ducks players who spent some time with the media at Honda Center this afternoon before heading home to rest and get ready for Game 4. There was no practice session scheduled for this afternoon.
“I told them to get away from it today,” said Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau. “Go home and don’t sit on the couch or anything. Get some movement and exercise in. But have a good day with your families, and don’t think about the game. Then come back tomorrow refreshed and all excited to play Game 5 in front of our fans.”
Kesler, for one, says he will oblige and “Go sit on the beach and relax, try not to think about hockey for a little bit, spend time with my kids. And when it’s gametime, I’ll be re-energized and ready to go.”
The Ducks are 11-3 in this postseason and have yet to lose two games in a row. They don’t plan on starting now, despite facing a Blackhawks team that has played them tight throughout.
“We have been talking all year as a hockey team about, ‘Never lose two in a row. Never lose two in a row,’” Beauchemin said. “We’ve found a way to respond all season. We’ve had some tough losses in the regular season, and we’ve found a way to bounce back and win the next game. I think that shows how much the guys care, and there is a lot of character in that room.”
Getzlaf says he sees a noticeable difference in his team when they’re coming off adversity. “I think our intensity and our game goes up,” he said. “With the situation we’re in, it’s all about responding. Everything that we designed this team around this year was our ability to put things behind us and move on and keep playing, and not let things affect us from game to game. We need to come back and get back at it. We’re anxious to get back on the ice after a disappointing loss.”
Added Boudreau, “We’ve done it all year. There have been a lot of times we’ve put games together that haven’t been good, and our resolve is really good, as I’m sure is Chicago’s. That’s what makes great series, in the end. It’s two great teams going at it and battling for every inch of ice. That makes it exciting.”
As expected, Boudreau was asked today if he plans on any lineup changes for Game 5, and he said his coaching staff will consider some at the forward spots. Despite the fact veteran blueliner James Wisniewski has yet to make an appearance this season, Boudreau sounded hesitant to shake up his defense despite the five goals against last night.
“Except for three goals in the third period, defensively our team has been pretty darn good in the playoffs,” Boudreau said.
“It’s not a time to panic, it’s a time to believe.”
CHICAGO -- The Anaheim Ducks scored the second-fastest three goals in NHL Stanley Cup Playoff history in 37 seconds of the third period to erase a 3-1 deficit, but Antoine Vermette's double overtime tally gave the Chicago Blackhawks a 5-4 win to even this memorable series at two games apiece.
Vermette, a healthy scratch in Game 3 on Thursday, had a great look from the middle of the ice, but his shot didn't reach the net. He regained control of the puck near the goal line to the right of goaltender Frederik Andersen and shot it just inside the far post at 5:37 of the second overtime.
Chicago's second multiple-overtime win tied the best-of-7 series 2-2. Game 5 is at Honda Center on Monday (9 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports).
Anaheim took a 4-3 lead midway through the third period with the second-fastest three goals in Stanley Cup Playoff history.
"We were very resilient being down 3-1," said Ducks forward Andrew Cogliano. "The game could’ve been over in a lot of situations, but we battled back. We were right there. This is a tough series, but we outshot them. They had some decent looks, but the game could’ve gone either way."
The Blackhawks tied it 4-4 on the power play with 7:21 left in the third period. Patrick Kane had the puck in the left corner and sent it to the right point for Brad Richards. After skating to his left and getting Anaheim's Nate Thompson to commit to a shot block, Richards went back to Kane, whose soft one-timer trickled through Andersen's legs.
Chicago captain Jonathan Toews gave the Blackhawks a 2-1 lead 2:38 into the third period. Brandon Saad kicked the puck from the left side of the slot to Toews on the right, and he waited for Andersen to slide across before snapping a shot into the top part of the net for his fifth goal of the postseason.
Toews' line had another dominant shift and scored five minutes later. Saad tried to stuff the puck on a wraparound but he lost it into the slot. Defenseman Brent Seabrook was there for a one-timer through traffic at 7:38 for his fourth goal of these playoffs.
That's when things got a little crazy.
Ducks forward Matt Beleskey stripped Vermette of the puck as he was about to skate it out of the Chicago zone, and then Beleskey snapped a wrist shot just inside the left post from the inside edge of the right circle at 9:05.
Chicago called timeout but could not slow Anaheim. Corey Perry scored while falling down on a rebound to give Anaheim the lead at 9:19.
The three goals in 37 seconds trail only the Toronto Maple Leafs' three in 23 seconds against the Atlanta Flames during the 1979 preliminary round. Chicago coach Joel Quenneville had an assist on the third Toronto goal.
"We’re a resilient group in here," said Ducks defenseman Cam Fowler. "You can’t dwell on any game, especially in the playoffs. You have to roll with the punches. So far, we have a second overtime loss and a third overtime loss. That could be a tough pill to swallow, but you can also use it as motivation to get ready. We’re going back to Anaheim. We’re in a heck of a series now. We just have to continue to prepare and get ready for the next game."
Kane's tying goal was the fifth between the teams in 5:01.
Brandon Saad scored shorthanded, the only goal of a dominant first period for the Blackhawks. Ducks defenseman Francois Beauchemin stumbled after contact with referee Chris Rooney along the left wall in the Chicago zone, and Saad went by him and Kesler with the puck and in alone on Andersen.
Saad's goal with 47 seconds left was his fourth of the postseason and first since the opening moments of Game 1 in a Western Conference Second Round sweep of the Minnesota Wild.
The Blackhawks finished the period with a 30-12 advantage in shot attempts.
Anaheim tied it 1-1 late in the second period after three minutes of offensive pressure. Toews went to the penalty box for high-sticking at 15:15; the Ducks did not score on the power play but kept applying pressure until Emerson Etem scored at 18:14.
Beauchemin kept a clearing attempt in the zone and got the puck to Kyle Palmieri. His shot beat Crawford, and after being initially awarded to Palmieri, the goal was given to Etem after the puck glanced off him in front of the crease.
The series now shifts to Anaheim for Game 5 on Monday.
"We’re going home in front of our crowd," said Perry. "It’s all tied now, but we’re excited. We’re going back, we want to start strong and put this one behind us."
"Let’s worry about the next game," said Ducks head coach Bruce Boudreau. "It happens. We’ll put it behind us. We’re ticked off, but we have a game in two days. If you dwell on it, you’ll dwell on it until you’re down 3-2. You just have to get angry and get after it. We know these are two good teams. We just have to be the one who comes out on top."