Blackhawks top Kings in another playoff barn-burner | Hockey | CBC Sports

Hockey Night in CanadaBlackhawks top Kings in another playoff barn-burner

Posted: Thursday, May 29, 2014 | 12:29 AM

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Somewhere in this pile of Blackhawks is Michal Handzus, who scored the game-winner in double overtime in Chicago on Wednesday. It was the ninth tally of Game 5 of the Western Conference final. (Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images) Somewhere in this pile of Blackhawks is Michal Handzus, who scored the game-winner in double overtime in Chicago on Wednesday. It was the ninth tally of Game 5 of the Western Conference final. (Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)

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Defence wins championships.

That is the popular refrain around the NHL. You may be able to score goals, but unless you can keep pucks out of your net, you'll never win.
Defence wins championships.

That is the popular refrain around the NHL. You may be able to score goals, but unless you can keep pucks out of your net, you'll never win.

Need proof?

Washington's Alexander Ovechkin led the NHL in goals this season 51, but he was scorned because he was minus-35 -- third worst in the league -- and the Capitals failed to make the playoffs.

For as great a scorer as Ovechkin is, he has never played in the third round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Too bad Ovie didn't get his team to this year's playoffs. He would have loved the style of hockey that has suddenly taken over the NHL.

Defence schmefence.

It has been tossed out the window and now it's all about offence.

Montreal and New York combined for 11 goals Tuesday night with the Canadiens staying alive with a 7-4 victory. The trend continued in the first period of Game 5 of the Los Angeles Kings-Chicago Blackhawks series with a five-goal opening period.

The host Blackhawks took a quick 2-0 lead, but the never-say-die Kings came back and made it a game.

And what a game it was. For the better part of three periods it seemed like last shot on goal would win. Then, of course, the two teams shut it down when the game venture into overtime. Suddenly neither could buy a goal.

But in the second overtime period Michal Handzus, who played four years with the Kings, broke in alone and ended the marathon.


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It was his first ever game-winning goal in the playoffs in his 113th post-season game.

"It was a terrific hockey game," said winning goalie Corey Crawford of the Blackhawks. "I mean, there were so many momentum changes; emotions going back and forth...we never gave up. It is tough when you have the lead and they come back and tie it and then get the lead. We never stopped and we believed we could get it back. It feels pretty good to get the winner."

Goalie highs; goalie lows

It has been a weird playoffs this season. Three of the most prominent stoppers in the NHL are challenging for the playoff lead in wins - and losses. With his loss Wednesday, Jonathan Quick of the Kings now leads the playoffs with eight. Had Crawford lost, he would have eight defeats. His win, though, moves him a step closer to Quick and Henrik Lundqvist of the New York Rangers who each have 11 victories. Crawford has 10.

Crawford understands the pressure the goalies face, especially with the season on the line.

"I think as a goalie, you have to remain calm no matter what is happening on the other side," he said after the game. "[Quick] has been playing great all series. I have to focus on their shooters and my job at the other end. You just have to stay calm and for every rush my team gets you just hope it is the one that goes into the net."

Hats off to Handzus

The 37-year-old Slovak has been a solid support player in the NHL since 1998.

"He does so many little things well and he still has some skill and he showed that in overtime obviously to put the puck in the back of the net," Crawford said. "We're happy for him that he got it and now we have some momentum going into the next game."

Kane delivers

After a sluggish performance through the first four games of the Western Conference final, Patrick Kane of the Blackhawks set up three goals in the first period and then assisted on the game-winning goal. Kane had his best game of the third round and will be one to keep an eye on in Game 6.

Straying from the script

The last thing the Kings wanted to do on the road in the loudest building on the planet was take an early penalty. Yet that is exactly what they did. Defenceman Drew Doughty tripped his Canadian Olympic teammate Jonathan Toews on the first shift at 0:30 and was sent off. Exactly 43 seconds later Chicago defender Brent Seabrook ripped a shot from the point to give the Blackhawks the early lead. Los Angeles goalie Jonathan Quick had no chance with Chicago's Andrew Shaw screening him.

Sticking to the script

If there was one thing the Blackhawks needed to help stave off elimination, it was a quick start. Chicago coach Joel Quenneville made that abundantly clear earlier in the day when speaking with the media. So when defenceman Johnny Oduya made it 2-0 at 3:40 slamming home a rebound on a save off Patrick Kane, the Hawks were suddenly in the driver's seat.

Cue the craziness

It became obvious the Kings and Blackhawks were going to follow the same path as the Canadiens and Rangers the night before when the two teams erupted for three more goals in the first.

Jarret Stoll of the Kings scored from a crowd in front of the Chicago net and that was followed by Quick making a save on Shaw, but failing to manage the rebound shot taken by Brandon Saad. A three-way passing play by the Kings concluded with Marian Gaborik notching his league-leading 11th goal of the playoffs at 13:16.

Things settled down until...

Perhaps the two teams were exhausted from goal celebrations, but the action stalled for the final 6:44 of the first period and it wasn't until 11:08 of the second that the next goal occurred.

Kings captain Dustin Brown tied it 3-3 with his fourth of the post-season on his team's third shot after Crawford made two saves. The Kings then took their first lead of the game when Tanner Pearson worked the puck to the top of the faceoff circle and snapped a high shot that Crawford should have stopped exactly two minutes later.

Desperados

With the season on the line, the Blackhawks needed a quick response in the third period and that is exactly what they got as Ben Smith beat Quick with a rebound at 1:17 to tie the game.

That set the table for Handzus's GWG in double OT.

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