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 finals.
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 barrelled 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 finals since 2007.
Game 6 is Wednesday in Chicago.
Corey Crawford made 23 saves before giving up the decisive rebound for the Blackhawks, who had won four overtime games already in this post-season, including two in this series.
They had all the momentum heading to OT after Toews silenced Honda Center — but the Ducks absorbed a pep talk from coach Bruce Boudreau and finished quickly with Beleskey’s seventh goal.
“They capitalized, but coming into overtime, Bruce said, ’Get your heads up, boys, we’re going to win this hockey game,”’ said Patrick Maroon, who scored with 5:15 left in regulation. “And everyone believed in here. We’ve been doing it all year, and that’s the great thing about our team, that never-give-up attitude.”
Cam Fowler and Kesler scored 32 seconds apart in a three-goal first period for the Ducks, who have won the Western Conference title just twice in franchise history. Captain Ryan Getzlaf had two assists and set the franchise’s single-season playoff scoring record with his 19th point.
Teuvo Teravainen and Brent Seabrook scored in the second period for Chicago, which lost a Game 5 in a tied series for the first time in its last eight tries. The Blackhawks must win two straight to reach their third Stanley Cup finals in six seasons.
“It was a great comeback,” Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said. “A great second (period), a great third, amazing finish. Tough in the overtime. We didn’t start on time for the first time in the series. (Anaheim) talked about being ready. Might have been the differential. But great comeback.”
These teams combined for a six-goal third period in Game 4, and they put together another memorable finish in a high-level playoff series already featuring two multi-overtime games, both won by Chicago. After Anaheim nearly stole Game 4 with three goals in 37 seconds, the Blackhawks nearly swiped this one away from the Ducks.
Toews got both of his goals with Crawford pulled, tying it with an impossibly sharp-angled shot that somehow got through Andersen, who made 24 saves.
He had been mostly superb in the post-season until allowing two awful goals in Game 5, including that tying howler.
“In the playoffs, it’s really tough to control your emotions, and you’ve got to be good at that,” Andersen said. “That’s what we did today, even though they came up and scored twice there. We refocused (before) OT, so it was great.”
Chicago opened Game 5 with more than 16 minutes without a shot on goal while falling behind 3-0, but the Blackhawks responded by scoring early and late in a dominant second period to set the stage for another remarkable finish.