Much like game 5 of the Eastern Conference Final the previous night, the team facing elimination got off to a fast start but had to overcome adversity to extend the series to a 6th game. Michal Handzus‘ goal 2:04 into the 2nd overtime period was the difference for the Chicago Blackhawks, as they beat the Los Angeles Kings 5-4. The goal came quickly in the 5th period, coming after a first overtime period that was played at a breathtaking pace by two teams desperate to win the game.
Chicago opened the scoring 1:13 in on a power play goal from Brent Seabrook, followed by Johnny Oduya two and a half minutes later to make it 2-0. Jarret Stoll got one back just before the midway mark of the period but Brandon Saad responded just over a minute later, making it 3-1. Patrick Kane, who had been all but invisible in this series, assisted on all 3 Chicago first period goals as part of a 4 point night.
However, the lead was not safe and before the first period was out, Marian Gaborik had narrowed the lead to 1 with his playoff-leading 11th goal.
Ben Smith scored the tying goal for the Chicago Blackhawks 1:13 into the third and then the game really got going. The next 40 minutes of action were fast, hard hitting and the way playoff hockey should be played. Especially the first period of overtime, which solved nothing, but had extended periods (almost 8 minutes at one point) of whistle-free, end to end action.
Then Handzus lost his check in the Kings’ zone and found a soft spot in the slot, taking a nice pass from Brandon Saad and putting a backhander past Jonathan Quick for the winner.
It wasn’t a goaltending clinic, much like game 5 of the Montreal-New York series, but the level of skill, grit and determination from these two teams are making this one of the best series’ in recent memory.
Game 6 goes back at Staples Center on Friday night.