In the first overtime game of the Western Conference finals, we also got a double, in which the Chicago Blackhawks managed to keep this series going a bit longer with a 5-4 win thanks to a goal from veteran Michal Handzus, while the Los Angeles Kings finished on closing things out, still leading 3-2 and headed back home.
The Kings seemed to have wasted their ammunition in a 24-minute stretch spanning the first and second period. They came back from two goals down and scored three straight to take a 4-3 lead heading into the third period. Ben Smith was the first to reach a rebound and tie the game at 4-4, which led to a frantic third period with plenty of saves and aggression, as both teams were trying to finish things off, and the Kings trying to close the series.
Handzus, the oldest player on the ice, is often used as a penalty killer. This time, it was his offense that made the difference, as he moved into position while two Kings players went to cover Brandon Saad. Saad, who finished with a goal and two assists, found the wide open Handzus who beat Jonathan Quick. It was Handzus’ second goal of the playoffs, and also the one that ended the Blackhawks’ three-game losing streak.
Saad, two guys went on him, and I got open. I was surprised I got open like that but he waited and waited and gave me a great pass. I want to help the team as much as I can. I’m playing on the PK a lot. I’m not playing very well offensively. I’m glad I came through. Personally, I thought Saader was the best player on the ice tonight. He was bringing so much speed and puck protection.
Corey Crawford was under pressure to preform, like his entire defense. The Blackahwks conceded 15 goals over their last three games as they completely fell apart with the Kings taking over the series. But these NHL playoffs have been about comebacks and failing to follow through with elimination around the corner, and the Kings, usually better when they have to come from behind, couldn’t find the offensive brilliance to put them through.
Patrick Kane had his best game of the series as the Blackhawks rallied around Jonathan Toews, who probably felt too alone in the previous game. This time the Kings paid him special attention, but it allowed the rest of the Chicago players to make the most of what was given to them. The Blackhawks finally won the Power Play comparison, scoring in the first period off of one, while the Kings couldn’t get the job done on their three attempts.
For a moment there in the second period it seemed like once again the Kings were going to run away with it. Marian Gaborik, Dustin Brown and Tanner Pearson scored to take the 4-3 lead in the second period after 13:08, but the Kings played timidly in the third period, as the Blackhawks were much more closer to securing the win than giving up another one slip away from them. In overtime it was a much more even story, but Crawford regained his form from the first game in the series.