The Chicago Blackhawks and Anaheim Ducks gave fans one of the best playoff matchups in recent memory in last year's Western Conference finals, and in Friday’s rematch in Orange County, the teams put on another great show, as Chicago scored two goals in the final two minutes to send the game to overtime before Artem Anisimov capped off the 3–2 comeback win for Chicago.
After Chicago (12-8-2) shut out Anaheim (9-11-5) in a 1–0 overtime game in the teams’ first meeting last month, the Ducks wasted no time getting on the board Friday, as Andrew Cogliano scored on a breakaway just 1:02 into the game. Anaheim then doubled its lead when Chris Stewart scored early in the second period on a 3-on-1 breakaway before Chicago rallied at the end of the third.
Here are three thoughts on Friday’s game:
Patrick Kane’s point-scoring streak continues
Chicago's Patrick Kane’s historic point streak continued to 18 games, as Kane set up Duncan Keith with the game-tying goal with under 30 seconds left to send the game to overtime.
Kane now has 29 points in the streak, and it is not only a personal career high, but is tied for the most in NHL history from an American-born player. He joins Eddie Olczyk, who scored points in 18 straight games with Toronto in 1989–90, and Phil Kessel, who scored points in 18 consecutive games with Boston in 2008–09. Bobby Hull has the all-time record with 21, set during the 1971–72 season.
After entering the season dealing with some legal troubles, Kane has dominated, as he currently sits atop the league with 35 points and is tied for second in goals with 13. He will likely continue to hear boos from opposing fans every time he touches the puck, like he did in Anaheim, but the four-time All-Star looks like an even better player now than he ever has.
Anaheim’s woes continue to get worse
After the Ducks’ horrific start to the season, where Anaheim won just one of its first 10 games, it seemed like the Ducks’ woes couldn’t get any worse.
They did Friday.
A win over Chicago could have been a turning point to the Ducks’ season and would’ve put them only two points behind Vancouver for the Pacific Division’s third playoff spot. But instead, the Ducks are once again left on the wrong side of the scoreboard and with a bitter taste in their mouths against the team that sent them home last spring.
After rattling off four wins to start November, the Ducks have been inconsistent, trading wins and losses in their last seven games entering Friday. That will need to change in their current homestand—the game against Chicago was the first of six at home, the second-longest stand the Ducks will have this season—if they want to stay in playoff contention. Anaheim will host Vancouver on Monday and will also face Tampa Bay, San Jose, Pittsburgh and Carolina.
But for a team that entered the season as SI's pick to win the Stanley Cup, the Ducks are, once again, back to having to answer questions. Coach Bruce Boudreau is back on the hot seat as the team failed to respond in its first game since he called some players out for being “brain-dead” after Wednesday’s loss to Arizona. The Ducks’ two main stars, Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf, failed to generate a point on Friday, and in big game, teams need their best players to be their best players.
The Ducks are also left wondering who will be their top netminder, as Frederik Andersen missed his third straight game with flu-like symptoms, and promising young goalie John Gibson showed he may still be a little bit off by allowing three goals at the end of the game like he did on Friday.
Gibson, who recently signed a three-year extension worth $6.9 million, started the season at Anaheim’s AHL affiliate, the San Diego Gulls, where he posted a 7-4-1 record with a 2.63 GAA and .917 SVP, but was called up to Anaheim on Tuesday. The Ducks then started Anton Khudobin against the Calgary Flames that night, but Gibson replaced Khudobin after his inconsistent play continued, and Gibson allowed two Calgary goals on just four shots. While Gibson has looked promising at points in his young career, like he did for the first 58 minutes of Friday's game, he's also struggled at points, like he did in the final two minutes. Meanwhile, Andersen started the season with a great individual October, but saw no help on the other end of the ice. But in November, the tables have turned, as the Ducks have once again found their scoring touch, but Andersen has let in some soft goals.
Chicago continues to dominate Anaheim
Chicago’s comeback on Friday was nothing short of remarkable. The Blackhawks scored two goals from Marian Hossa and Keith after appearing to be knocked out of the game and won their fourth straight over the Ducks, dating back to last season’s Western Conference finals.
Friday’s game was eerily similar to Game 5 of last year’s conference finals, where Chicago scored two late goals to erase a 4–2 deficit. But in that game, Anaheim bounced back in overtime to hang on for the win to take a 3–2 series lead. Chicago learned its lesson and made sure that didn't happen again on Friday, as the Blackhawks generated an early opportunity in overtime before Anisimov was able to bank in the game-winner by Gibson.
Chicago has gotten the better of Anaheim since that Game 5, winning last year's Games 6 and 7 and the two meetings this season. The teams will only face each other one more time this season, when they meet back in Chicago in February.