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Ducks Throwback: May 25th, 2015

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Things have been very dull this particular offseason, and not just for the Ducks. Besides from a few swaps and trades here and there, it’s been a different kind of off-season. So, with that unfortunate news, the best thing to do in order to pass time would be to go through some of the best moments from the Ducks and their success in recent years.

The Explanation

In this new series, we’ll be going over one game, as well as the background behind it, from each of the past five years in Ducks history, article by article.

In our first installment, we’ll have to go back to May 25th, 2015. In the midst of a playoff battle for the ages, the Ducks and Blackhawks were tied at three goals apiece going into Game Five of the Western Conference Finals. There’s a lot to go over with this scenario, and why the Ducks are here, let alone in an overtime period after the start of Game Five.

2014-2015 Rounds One & Two

The Ducks bench celebrating after Jakob Silfverberg scores a game winning goal against the Jets.

In order to get to Game Five, the Ducks first had to go through two rounds against two Canadian foes. They first took on an old rival in Winnipeg, and they kept the first round curse going for the Jets after they swept them convincingly. Only one game went past three periods, and that was all there was to it. Next, Anaheim faced off against the Calgary Flames in a rematch of 2006. The Ducks would just miss out on the sweep, losing Game Three at Calgary in overtime, but they got the job done quickly in five games. Game Five was the only game with a close score, the rest were yet again convincing.

Sizing Up the Hawks

The Hawks celebrating a goal together.

The biggest challenge for the Ducks were the looming Chicago Blackhawks. Although they had never met in the playoffs, these two Western Conference powerhouses sent shock waves across the NHL, and it was guaranteed to be a closer series than the last two. The Blackhawks had a final record of 48-28-6, and they sat at 3rd in the Central Division. They would come out of a scrappy six-game series against the Nashville Predators, and then followed it up with a close sweep of the Minnesota Wild. They had a lot to play for, considering that they were trying to bag their third Cup in five years, and they were going to make sure people knew that their third-place finish meant nothing. The Ducks, on the other hand, finished as the Pacific Division champions with a record of 51-24-7. Both teams would exchange two blows, each more painful than the last, and the series would be tied going back to Anaheim for a crucial Game Five.

The Rise & The Fall

Ducks goalie Frederik Andersen blocking a shot through a tough screen.

The air was tense in the sold-out Honda Center that night, Blackhawks fans and Ducks fans bringing their best energies and trying to cheer loud enough to bring down the house. The Ducks fans would get to have the first roar of applause. At 5:10 into the first period, Cam Fowler would get some help from Nate Thompson and Andrew Cogliano to bang one off the post and in to make it 1-0. It was Fowler’s second goal in what was a tough year for him, and it was a huge goal for Anaheim. And once more, Ducks fans brought the noise as Ryan Kesler deflected a puck from Jakob Silfverberg and Francois Beauchemin past Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford to make it 2-0,  just 32 seconds after the last goal. Kesler was on fire at this point in the playoffs, already having five goals before, and finally tacking on a very important sixth. Lastly, with just 5:23 left in the first, Sami Vatanen would rifle a pass from Ryan Getzlaf between the blocker and pad of Crawford to put the Ducks up 3-0. Vatanen’s third goal of the playoffs proved to be a very important one later on in the game. Perhaps the second most crucial Anaheim goal.

Jonathan Toews celebrating his game tying goal late in the 3rd.

The Hawks were seemingly down, but upon further inspection, definitely not out after they let up those three goals. Frederik Andersen, the Ducks goalie, let up a bad goal from Teuvo Teravainen, which was assisted by Patrick Sharp, as well as a future Duck in Antoine Vermette. The Hawks were within two, as the score was 3-1 early in the second period. All went well for a majority of the period, but with 24.8 seconds left, Brent Seabrook would get some help from Teuvo Teravainen and Patrick Sharp once more to make it 3-2. It was Seabrook’s fifth goal, which led all other defensemen in scoring for the 2017 playoffs. Closer and closer, the Ducks looked to close out Game Five with a strong third period. From Getzlaf, to Vatanen, and finally put home by Patrick Maroon, it was 4-2 Ducks. His sixth goal of the playoffs gave the Ducks a massive insurance goal with only 5:15 left on the clock in the third. However, Ducks fans aren’t blissfully unaware to the fact that games can change for the worse in an instant, and Jonathan Toews would laser the puck past Andersen with the help of Marian Hossa and Duncan Keith to make it a one-goal game yet again with a little under two minutes to go. It was his sixth goal, and it gave the Blackhawks the room they needed to make another comeback in the series with a close 4-3 score. After that, the Ducks tried their best to hold the lead for good, but disaster struck. Andersen let a bad shot from the boards slip by his pads. Tie game, 4-4, and heartbreak. Hawks fans brought the loudness now after Toews scored his seventh goal with Andrew Shaw and Seabrook. 37.2 seconds were left on the clock, and when the clock struck zero, everyone knew it was going to be another late-night game.

Déjà Vu?

Andersen battling to keep the puck out of the net in Chicago.

Rewinding back to the night before, the Ducks made an incredible three-goal comeback against the Hawks in the third, using only 37 seconds to do so. Back and forth, the two teams fought into the night, drawing the game on into a second overtime period. Unfortunately for the Ducks, they got burned after a defensive breakdown in front of Andersen a little over five minutes into the period. Antoine Vermette sealed the deal, and now he was looking to repeat that feat in Game Five with a now rejuvenated Hawks team. The Ducks, however, weren’t going to lay down and die after a tough lead change within the dying seconds. They fought hard, and Carlyle rallied them together to try and win as a group. Game Five, the series lead on the line, a second overtime game in a row, anything was liable to happen.

During the first ticks of the clock in the OT period, Bryan Bickel of the Hawks tried to dump the puck into Anaheim’s zone, but his attempt was caught by Silfverberg’s stick. Seeing nothing but a clear passing lane to Ryan Kesler and Matt Beleskey in front of him, Silfverberg slid the puck over, and the game would be decided just 45 seconds into overtime.

“Here come the Ducks, Kesler shoots, PICKED OFF, REBOUND SCORE! BELESKEY!”

– Kenny Albert commentating the last goal of the game.

 Beleskey’s OT game winner.

Coming Out On Top

Finally, the Ducks would avenge their mistakes of the last game, and capitalize on a goalie mistake eerily similar to the one that Andersen made in the 2OT loss the Ducks took previously. They had the series lead, and were a win away from reaching the promised land for the third time in franchise history. Game Five ended 5-4,  and would go into the books as one of the most memorable playoff performances in Anaheim, and will always have a special place in the hearts of many Ducks fans.

As we know now, the Ducks would lose Game Six and collapse in Game Seven, proving the Game Seven curse to be more real than most wanted to give it credit. However, the 2014-2015 squad was a special one, and they really had the potential to go all the way if luck was on their side. Luck is sometimes a tormentor, and in this case for the Ducks fans, it went the other way. The Blackhawks beat the Eastern Conference champions in the Tampa Bay Lightning, and they secured their third Cup, while Ducks fans were left to wonder,

“What if?”

The Ducks stand on the ice after a heartbreaking Game Seven loss.

Game Scores and Statistics: hockey-reference.com
Pictures Courtesy: SportsNet, Anaheim Calling, FanSided, LA Daily News, Rant Sports, the Chicago Sun Times, SB Nation, USA Today, 
the Daily News, and Reddit.
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