ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — When Jonathan Toews scored twice in the final seconds to force overtime in Game 5, the Western Conference finals appeared to be bending under the weight of the Chicago Blackhawks’ famed playoff tenacity.
They bent, but the Anaheim Ducks didn’t break.
And now Chicago will need all of that postseason toughness to avoid elimination.
Matt Beleskey scored 45 seconds into overtime, and the Ducks bounced back from Toews’ heroics to beat the Blackhawks 5-4 on Monday night, taking a 3-2 series lead.
“I think going into overtime, we were feeling that the game was in our hands and we’re going to get that next break,” Toews said. “So it’s unfortunate that we couldn’t take advantage of it.”
Until Beleskey lined up Ryan Kesler’s fat rebound off Corey Crawford’s pad and fired it into an open net, the ice appeared to be tilted in the Blackhawks’ favor in the sixth overtime period already in this series.
Chicago trailed for about 52 minutes before silencing Honda Center with Toews’ stunning goals, one with 1:50 left and the tying score with 37.2 seconds to play.
“I think we always show that we can always dig ourselves out of those holes,” Toews said. “We did it tonight, and still find a way to push it to overtime.”
Crawford made 23 saves before giving up the decisive rebound for the Blackhawks, who had won four overtime games already in this postseason, including two in this series. But Chicago dropped to 0-4 after those OT games, and the Hawks lost for the first time in 10 postseason games while scoring at least three goals.
Teuvo Teravainen and Brent Seabrook scored in the second period for Chicago, which lost one bit of its postseason aura: The Blackhawks had won Game 5 in a tied series seven consecutive times.
Now they must win two straight to reach their third Stanley Cup finals in six seasons.
Game 6 is Wednesday in Chicago.
“That’s probably as good of a lesson as you’re going to get on keeping your emotions (on an) even keel,” Chicago forward Patrick Sharp said. “It was a good, hard-fought game. Tough to lose it quickly in overtime like that, but they’re a good team. We expect them to play hard and win games. We just have to make sure we win at home.”
Patrick Maroon scored with 5:15 left in regulation, while Sami Vatanen 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.
“It’s Ducks hockey,” said Ryan Kesler, who had a goal and an assist. “We don’t like to do anything easy.”
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.
Toews got both of his goals with Crawford pulled, tying it with an impossibly sharp-angled shot that somehow got through Frederik Andersen, who made 24 saves. He had been mostly superb in the postseason until allowing two awful goals in Game 5, including that tying howler.
“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.
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.
NOTES: Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau shuffled his forwards to start Game 5, scratching Emerson Etem and activating Tomas Fleischmann. Boudreau changed three line combinations to start, putting Fleischmann on the second line with Kesler and Jakob Silfverberg. He changed the combinations again in the third period. … The Blackhawks allowed three goals in a period for the seventh time in this postseason. … Actor Emilio Estevez tweeted his support to the Ducks before and during the game. Estevez played coach Gordon Bombay in the “Mighty Ducks” film series that originally gave the nickname to this expansion NHL franchise formerly owned by Disney.
Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.