One night after Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Final posted a final score with 11 goals, the Chicago Blackhawks and Los Angeles Kings followed that up with a wild game of their own. The ninth and final tally of the night would come in double overtime off the stick of Michal Handzus for a 5-4 Blackhawks win.
Chicago got off to a good start, scoring twice on their first five shots, but the Kings have been used to overcoming deficits this postseason. LA would answer by scoring four of the next five goals to silence the United Center crowd and have Blackhawks fans thinking this could be the end.
But those fears were squashed 1:17 into the third period when Ben Smith capitalized on a juicy rebound from Jonathan Quick to tie the game 4-4. From that moment until Handzus’ winner, the game would take on a frenetic pace and be some of the best hockey played this postseason.
Overtime no. 1 featured 18 total shots and non-stop action, with 7:56 of whistle-free play at one point. Then in double overtime, the game finally came to an end.
Handzus was on the ice with Patrick Kane and Brandon Saad to win a face-off. He did just that and as the Blackhawks entered the Kings' zone Saad controlled the puck and lured Willie Mitchell and Trevor Lewis his way toward the boards. That opened up space for Handzus in the slot to receive Saad’s pass and backhand a shot over Quick’s glove.
Despite failing to hold another two-goal lead in the series, Handzus told NBCSN afterward that the Blackhawks didn’t allow themselves get down about it, knowing what was at stake.
“You’ve got to try to stay even-keel in the playoffs,” he said. “We knew we were confident we could tie it up.”
One key reason that the Blackhawks stayed in the game and were able to overcome the blown lead was the line of Patrick Kane, Andrew Shaw and Brandon Saad. The trio combined for nine points, with both Kane and Saad having a hand in Handzus' winner.
Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville liked what he saw out of that line and sees the potential in those three being together moving forward.
"They all had huge games," he said. "It might have been a discovery.
"Hopefully what we discovered today could be a line for a long time."
Game 6 is Friday at Staples Center.
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