After the Chicago Blackhawks and Anaheim Ducks played the equivalent of almost two games in Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals on Tuesday night, many analysts predicted there would be a carry-over effect heading into Game 3 less than 48 hours later.
“I think it did carry over,” Chicago Tribune hockey writer Chris Kuc said on CBS Sports Radio’s After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “I think the first period that both teams kind of rode the wave of the emotion of the crowd and came out firing. But in that second and third period, I thought they both looked a step slow. But they were both playing at equal footing there, both equally tired. So there was no excuses from either team certainly.”
Simon Despres broke a 1-1 tie in the final minute of the second period, giving Anaheim a 2-1 win and a 2-1 lead in the series. The Blackhawks have scored just two goals in their last 7+ periods against Anaheim and got just one shot on goal in five power-play opportunities in Game 3.
“Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Patrick Sharp, Marian Hossa, Duncan Keith – it boggles the mind sometimes how they don’t move the puck and they don’t keep their feet moving and they don’t generate opportunities,” Kuc said. “Certainly the Ducks have a lot to do with it. They’re clogging the shooting lanes and clearing the crease of any rebounds. But when you’ve got the kind of talent the Blackhawks have, you’ve got to get more than one shot on goal.”
It might not have mattered even if they had. Patrick Kane scored a goal in the first period, but 25-year-old Frederik Andersen has been masterful in this series, stopping 112 of 117 shots (95.7 percent) thus far.
“He’s really come out of nowhere this year to be the rock for the Ducks,” Kuc said. “Really, I think the goaltending has been terrific on both sides in this series. It’s a joy to watch. But you talk about Andersen, a guy who really came out of nowhere and has a chance to lead this team to the Stanley Cup Finals. Certainly the Blackhawks are looking for ways to solve him, whether it’s getting in his face more or getting more redirections. You have to get greasy goals, as they say. But Andersen is stopping everything he sees for sure.”
Corey Crawford, meanwhile, has been almost as good, stopping 108 of 115 shots (93.9 percent) in this series, including 60 in Game 2. Despres, however, had a fairly wide-open net to shoot into for the game-winner Thursday.
“(Crawford) said he got bumped,” Kuc said. “He said he got bumped all game long. He wasn’t trying to make excuses there, but if a guy gets bumped and he can’t get over, that’s kind of what happened there. Certainly a nice passing play and goals like that happen. Corey Crawford’s been outstanding and the Hawks really wouldn’t have had the series tied if it wasn’t for what he did in overtime in Game 2. But he said the Ducks are in his face – and that’s what you have to do in playoff hockey. Anaheim’s not afraid to get right in front and jostle the goaltender. That’s exactly what happened and they got the goal for it.”
Game 4 is Saturday in Chicago at 8 p.m. ET.