Blackhawks say not so fast to the Kings, win Game 5 - | KTBC Fox 7 | News, Weather, Sports

Blackhawks say not so fast to the Kings, win Game 5

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

In a must win situation the Chicago Blackhawks prevailed with a 5-4 victory over Los Angeles in double overtime. Following the game Joel Quenneville remarked the OT session was the greatest one he had ever witnessed. Not sure if Quenneville would have thought the same if his crew lost, but the overtime was a great viewing experience.

Game 5 had something for every Blackhawk fan, actually every fan of hockey.

There were some very good saves by Corey Crawford and he also allowed a couple of soft goals. The Hawks came out strong and grabbed a quick two goal advantage only to fall behind in another infamous second period. At the start of third frame the Kings were riding high but it was the Hawks who scored to tie the game 77 seconds into the period.

The first OT period was played at an unbelievable pace and both goaltenders needed to make big stops. The end to end action was the best commercial the NHL could ever want.

The second OT period ended quickly. Michal Handzus, one of the least likely Blackhawk goal scorers skated to the net and put a backhander past Jonathan Quick.

Anyone who loves sports or appreciates the game of hockey but doesn’t have a dog in this fight would want this series to go the distance. The question for those with a Chicago bias is whether the Hawks can match the same intensity on Friday night in Los Angeles. If they can, just maybe a Game 7 can take place back at the United Center on Sunday.

After falling behind in the series three games to one my thinking was the Hawks would have a slim chance to advance. Now their odds have gotten a little better but the Kings could have easily won Game 5. After the opening part of period one, Los Angeles was as good or better than Chicago until the third period.

It seems obvious at this point the Kings have the edge in overall depth. The Jeff Carter line has scored 20 points in the series and they aren't the number one line for the Kings.

An edge the Hawks have is Patrick Kane. When Kane has a top performance no one can create scoring chances the way he does.

The main difference for the Blackhawks on Wednesday night was Kane had help. He can do a lot alone but against the better teams to be most effective some help is required. Kane got what he needed to control the offensive attack and pick up four assists.

Wednesday night Quenneville teamed Kane up with Brandon Saad and Andrew Shaw who was at center. The three clicked and were the best line in the game. A case could be made Saad and Kane were the best players in Game 5 as well.

Kane was able to create as his two linemates were able to cycle with him but also play an effective north/south game as well. They entered the Kings zone with speed while Saad and Shaw created space for Kane to work his magic.

Saad provided a lot of his own magic as he was a plus four on the night. He was credited with a goal and two helpers. Saad not only had seven shots, but his on ice awareness was great and his passing was top notch.

On the game-winning goal Saad saw Handzus coming down the middle heading for the net but he stayed patient. Saad waited for Kane to cut across the slot which opened space for Handzus to come in basically alone on Quick and he made no mistake.

Shaw was the other member of the newly formed second line and he stayed out of the penalty box and made a strong contribution. Shaw had two assists and showed a great deal of courage to play in overtime practically on one leg. Shaw appeared to suffer a leg injury while getting tangled along the boards in the third period. It looked serious but Shaw stayed on the bench and didn’t miss a shift. In extra time he looked to be hurting and favoring one leg but he battled through it.

If Shaw is unable to go on Friday, Quenneville could look to play Ben Smith with Kane and Saad. One thing is for certain Kris Versteeg won’t be getting moved up in the batting order. Versteeg had another sloppy effort filled with a lack of puck management.

Versteeg had more than one miscue but he failed to make a simple play along the boards to clear the puck near the midpoint of period two. Versteeg turned the puck over inside the Hawks blueline and a second later Dustin Brown tied the game at three.

Versteeg stayed on the bench and didn’t skate another shift for the rest of the game. It wouldn’t be surprising if Versteeg doesn’t see the ice again in this series.

Quenneville was looking to shake things up and get the required focus back from his defensemen. He switched the defensive pairings and stayed with that design for almost the entire game. In some ways Quenneville’s move seemed to work and at other times not.

Playing defense together requires a great deal of communication between partners. The best tandems develop a distinctive feel for each other as they always seem to know where their partner is at. One could point to a communication breakdown on the Kings first two goals of the night but overall the defense was better. Brent Seabrook stood out as having a very good performance and as a group the Hawks blocked 18 shots.

The goaltending in this series goes from great to subpar almost every game. Crawford hasn’t been as good overall as Quick but neither have been able to put forth a game without a save or two they should have made.

Quenneville needed his best players to step up and take control and he got that type of game from Kane. The Hawks bench boss desperately needed others in the lineup to match the intensity and output of the Kings. In Game 5, Saad and Shaw in particular came through but there were some others as well.

The Kings are not a broken club in the least. They lost an overtime game and now will return home to try to finish off the Hawks. Make no mistake the Kings will come out with more focus and look to not fall behind by two goals early in the first period.

Jonathan Toews had a chance to extend the Hawks lead from two goals to three in the first period, but Quick stopped him at point blank range. Instead of making things easier the Hawks got caught as Los Angeles turned the play and Marian Gaborik made it 3-2. That was a huge turnaround and my thinking was whichever team scored next would likely be the winner.

It was odd to think that way in the first period but it seemed like the Kings could break the spirit of the Hawks if they could draw even. Well Los Angeles did one better, they not only tied the game they scored twice in another infamous second period to take the lead.

For those who have questioned the desire of the Blackhawks there was no doubt they wanted Game 5 desperately. After giving up another lead a lesser group may have tossed in the towel but not the Blackhawks.

They rallied early in the third period to tie the score and were the better club for the rest of the night. The Hawks had 16 shots on Quick in the third frame, while the Kings recorded only eight shots on goal.

The Blackhawks somehow need to get this series to a best out of one game. That can’t happen unless they find a way to beat Los Angeles in Game 6.

The only folks who will be hoping that doesn’t happen are Kings fans. Anyone who loves the game of hockey will want to watch a Game 7 against these two fine clubs.

You can follow me on Twitter @AlCimaglia and I will be back on Saturday morning.

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