ANAHEIM, Calif. — The Anaheim Ducks stumbled back to their dressing room after regulation in disbelief. Jonathan Toews had just scored two improbable goals in 72 seconds, and Game 5 of the Western Conference finals was headed into an overtime where everything seemed tilted toward Chicago.
These Ducks were stunned, but not staggered. And they needed less than a minute of extra time to get to the brink of the Stanley Cup Final.
Matt Beleskey scored 45 seconds into overtime, and Anaheim weathered Toews’ heroics to beat the Blackhawks 5-4 on Monday night, taking a 3-2 series lead.
“It’s Ducks hockey,” said Ryan Kesler, who had a goal and an assist. “We don’t like to do anything easy.”
After Anaheim led Game 5 for about 52 straight minutes, Toews scored with 1:50 left and again with 37.2 seconds to play, forcing the sixth overtime period already in this series. His tying score on a long shot from a sharp angle was a brutally bad goal for Frederik Andersen, the Ducks’ normally reliable Danish goalie.
The Honda Center crowd fell eerily silent, but the Ducks regrouped, refocused and showed off the late-game poise that has characterized the entire season for a team that repeatedly dominated one-goal games.
Shortly after the opening faceoff, Beleskey barreled into the crease and scored on a rebound of Kesler’s shot, flying through the air headfirst in celebration of a landmark goal in Ducks history.
“That’s the biggest goal I’ve ever scored,” Beleskey said. “It’s a great feeling anytime you do that, especially at home.”
Sami Vatanen also had a goal and an assist for the Ducks, who need one more victory to earn their first trip to the Stanley Cup Final since 2007.
Game 6 is Wednesday in Chicago.
Thumbnail photo via Alex Gallardo/Associated Press