Blackhawks Overcome Ducks To Force Game 7, Duncan Keith Leads The Charge

Chicago Blackhawks kept alive their hopes of reaching another Stanley Cup Final with a 5-2 win over the Anaheim Ducks in Game 6 of their Western Conference finals series in Chicago on Wednesday night.

On a big night for veteran defenseman Duncan Keith — who assisted the first three goals — the Blackhawks tied up the series for a third time and will now travel to Anaheim on Saturday looking to take the series and make a return to the Stanley Cup finals for the third time in five years.

The Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup in 2010 and 2013, but they were facing elimination on home ice and coach Joel Quenneville, unusually, played Patrick Kane and Jonathan T0ews together on the same line, and after a tight, scoreless first period, the decision started to yield dividend in the second period. Before that, the Blackhawks’ best chance came when Brandon Saad pounced on a Ryan Getzlaf and forced Ducks’ goaltender Andersen to make a superb save.

Keith — a two-time winner of the Norris trophy, awarded to the league’s best defenseman — sparked the Blackhawks surge in the second period, leading a flurry of speedy plays that saw the Blackhawks race into three-goal lead in the space of just four minutes.

For the first, Keith fed Kane in the neutral zone, but it was Saad that picked up the loose puck, this time sticking his shot past Andersen for his fifth goal of the postseason. The Blackhawks doubled their lead barely two minutes later. This time, Keith twice feigned to shoot from the left circle before finding a wide open Marian Hossa, who beat Andersen again. Kane got the third a minute and a half later, after another great play by Keith, and the Blackhawks seemed to be cruising to victory.

But the Anaheim Ducks were not done yet. Patrick Maroon deflected past Corey Crawford to narrow the deficit shortly afterwards, and when Clayton Stoner scored early in the third period to make it 3-2, they were back in it. But the Blackhawks would not be denied. Keith, again, proved a pivotal force as the Blackhawks withstood Anaheim’s push for a tying goal and he scooped a deflected Corey Perry shot right off the goal line with the score at 3-2.

Once the Blackhawks weathered the storm, Andrew Shaw’s two goals — the second into an empty net in the last minute — restored their two-goal margin and ensured the series will go the distance.

The Blackhawks will have to win at Anaheim’s Honda Centre to reach another Stanley Cup final, a feat they have already managed once in this series, when Markus Kruger’s goal settled a marathon Game 2 in triple overtime. They’ll be hoping for a reprise of that ending — rather than last year’s painful 5-4 game seven loss to the Los Angeles Kings, which cost the Blackhawks the conference championship.

If Keith can repeat his Game 6 exploits and add to his already impressive postseason numbers — he has 14 assists and 2 goals, the most points for a defenseman — the Blackhawks could well depart Anaheim celebrating on Saturday night.

[Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images]

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