The Anaheim Ducks escaped with a Game 5 overtime win Monday night against the Chicago Blackhawks to move within a single victory of a Stanley Cup Final appearance.
The Ducks appeared to be comfortably headed to a 3-2 series advantage in the Western Conference Final with a 4-2 lead in the final two minutes of Game 5. But the Blackhawks, like they’ve done so many times in recent playoff runs, stormed back with two goals from captain Jonathan Toews.
Toews’ tying goal with 38 seconds remaining in regulation was literally shot from behind the goal line and beat Ducks goaltender Frederik Andersen. It was a very soft goal for Andersen to allow, especially given the situation late in the game.
Andersen, despite his shaky performance to end Game 5, has played very well in these playoffs with a .925 save percentage. He also has posted a solid .924 save percentage against the Blackhawks despite giving up nine goals in the last two games. The Danish netminder has still allowed two goals or fewer in nine of his 14 playoff starts this spring.
Andersen, despite his success in the first two series, was a bit of a question mark entering the West Final as a young goaltender who had never played past the second round of the playoffs before this season.
He stepped up in Anaheim’s Game 1 win over Chicago with 33 saves, including a remarkable stick stop on Patrick Kane. After making a career-high 53 saves in a triple-overtime loss in Game 2, Andersen rebounded with a 27-save effort in a 2-1 Game 3 victory. Even though he was less than stellar in Game 4, Andersen gave his team plenty of chances to win and even stopped a breakaway in the first overtime.
Game 5 was Andersen’s first bad game of the conference finals, and the chances of a bounce-back performance from him are pretty high. He’s 4-0-2 on the road and 4-0-0 following a game in which he gave up three or more goals this postseason.
“I think I’ve always been good at bouncing back,” Andersen said Tuesday, via Eric Stephens of the Orange County Register. “And I think (Game 6 is) going to be a great opportunity again. It’s all about winning that one game and going to the Finals. That’s all my focus is right now.”
The Blackhawks have had the upper hand in puck possession by controlling 52.4 percent of 5-on-5 shot attempts against the Ducks. This has given Andersen plenty of work, and he’s responded with a .948 save percentage during 5-on-5 play, which is the best mark among all four starting goalies in the conference finals.
The team that wins Game 5 when a best-of-7 series is tied 2-2 advances to the next round 78.6 percent of the time, and the Ducks should be confident about being in that majority with Andersen in net.
Thumbnail photo via David Banks/USA TODAY Sports Images
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