CHICAGO (AP) — The Anaheim Ducks keep swinging away against the Chicago Blackhawks. They are hoping their depth pays off in the final stretch of the Western Conference finals.
Ryan Kesler, Corey Perry and Matt Beleskey scored in a dazzling 37-second stretch in the third period Saturday night, but Patrick Kane had a tying power-play goal and Antoine Vermette scored in the second overtime to give the Blackhawks a 5-4 victory that tied the series at two games apiece.
Anaheim also lost to Chicago in triple overtime in Game 2, and Ducks center Andrew Cogliano is hoping the extra minutes take a toll on Chicago’s top four defensemen.
“It’s 2-2, but the longer the game goes, the longer those D play and I think that’s a good thing for us,” he said. “Those guys are great defensemen. They’re top-end defensemen but they’re playing a lot of minutes and we’re going home and we’re going to make it tough on them.”
Vermette, who said he was surprised and disappointed when he was left out of the lineup for Chicago’s 2-1 loss in Game 3, was stopped on his first try in front, but stayed with the rebound and shot it over Frederik Andersen for his second goal of playoffs at 5:37. He then skated over to the corner and was mobbed by his teammates as the season-high crowd of 22,404 cheered wildly.
Vermette worked out at the United Center during the Blackhawks’ first home playoff loss Thursday night. He wanted to stay ready if he got back in the lineup — and he made the most of another opportunity.
“At this time of the year, you don’t want to make an individual or a personal story,” said Vermette, acquired from Arizona at the trade deadline. “The main focus is about the team’s success. That’s all that matters. I’m glad we won tonight.”
Game 5 is Monday night in Anaheim.
Brandon Saad had a goal and two assists for Chicago, and captain Jonathan Toews had a goal and an assist. Patrick Kane scored for the second straight game, and Corey Crawford finished with 47 saves — helping the Blackhawks stay alive when the Ducks had a big push in the first extra session.
Emerson Etem also scored for Anaheim, and Andersen had 35 saves.
“We always talk about highs and lows in the playoffs and we learn and move on,” Perry said. “It’s one game. We still have home-ice advantage. We were right there.”
Etem’s third goal of the playoffs tied it at 1 late in the second, setting the stage for a wild finish to regulation.
Toews’ wrist shot over a prone Andersen got the lead back for Chicago at 2:38, and Brent Seabrook made it 3-1 on a big slap shot 5 minutes later. It was the first goal of the conference finals for Toews, who has been wrestling with Kesler all over the ice for most of the series.
The Ducks responded with a frenzied rally, silencing the big crowd. First, Kesler beat Crawford for his fifth goal of the playoffs at 8:42, and then Beleskey used Blackhawks defenseman Kimmo Timonen as a screen for perfectly placed wrister that tied it at 3. Perry capped the dazzling stretch with a rebound score for Anaheim’s first lead at 9:19.
“It was a good sign for this team,” Cogliano said. “We didn’t give up. We battled back and got the goals that we needed to, but ultimately they won and the series is tied.”
The three goals in 37 seconds were the second-fastest three playoff goals scored by one team in NHL history, according to the Elias. Toronto scored three times in 23 seconds against the Atlanta Flames on April 12, 1979, with Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville assisting on the final goal in that stretch for the Maple Leafs.
And there was still one more goal to go in the third.
The only penalty of the period was a holding whistle on Ducks winger Jakob Silfverberg, and Chicago turned it into Kane’s tying score at 12:39. Kane slid Richards’ pass underneath Andersen, and the goaltender’s momentum helped carry the puck just past the goal line.
“When they came back, we kept playing,” Crawford said.
Anaheim was hurt by an unfortunate break in the first period.
With Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook in the box for slashing, Saad got the puck along the boards in his defensive zone. Ducks defenseman Francois Beauchemin then got tangled up with referee Chris Rooney, and Saad took off for a breakaway.
Kesler made one last try to break up the rush, but Saad deftly knocked his stick away before beating Andersen into the upper right corner with 47 seconds left. It was Saad’s first goal since Game 1 of the second round against Minnesota.
NOTES: Beauchemin got his 27th career playoff assist on Etem’s goal, passing Scott Niedermayer for the top spot on the franchise list for defensemen. … The Ducks have outscored their opponents 21-6 in the third period in the playoffs.
Jay Cohen can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/jcohenap
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