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Ducks defeat Blackhawks in OT, on verge of Cup Final

by Corey Masisak / NHL.com

ANAHEIM -- The Anaheim Ducks are one win from the 2015 Stanley Cup Final.

Matt Beleskey scored 45 seconds into overtime to give the Ducks a 5-4 victory against the Chicago Blackhawks on Monday in Game 5 of the Western Conference Final at Honda Center.

"That's the biggest goal I've ever scored," Beleskey said. "It's a great feeling any time you do that, especially at home. We're one game away from a Stanley Cup berth. It was a huge goal and it felt unbelievable."

Ryan Kesler and Sami Vatanen each had a goal and an assist for Anaheim, and Ryan Getzlaf and Jakob Silfverberg each had two assists. The Ducks lead the best-of-7 series 3-2 and can clinch their first berth in the Cup Final since 2007 in Game 6 on Wednesday at United Center (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports).

The Blackhawks' invincibility when tied 2-2 in a Stanley Cup Playoff series is no more. Chicago had been involved in seven Stanley Cup Playoff series that were 2-2 since Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane arrived in 2007. Entering Monday, the Blackhawks were 14-0 after that point in those series, closing out each of the seven in six games.

The third overtime game of this series didn't last nearly as long as the first two. Beleskey pounced on the rebound of a Kesler shot to help the Ducks recover after a furious comeback by the Blackhawks.

"It looked like they were in the middle of a change, and we caught them off guard," Kesler said. "It was a pad pass right to [Beleskey], and he buried it. It's a big goal for this team."

Toews scored his sixth and seventh goals of the postseason with goaltender Corey Crawford on the bench to erase a 4-2 deficit late in the third and send the game to overtime.

The Blackhawks cut the lead to 4-3 with 1:50 remaining when Toews one-timed a pass from Marian Hossa from inside the left circle. Toews made it 4-4 with 37 seconds left on a low shot in the left corner from the goal line that glanced off Ducks goaltender Frederik Andersen's left skate and into the net.

"We said it was our turn," Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau said about the intermission before overtime. "Don't be upset and hang your heads. Get angry. Get really mad because we [threw] it away a little bit. Just come back and do what you did in the first period. Things will work out."

The Ducks scored three times before the Blackhawks' first shot on goal at 16:20 of the first period.

Anaheim center Nate Thompson collected the puck in the right corner and turned away from Chicago center Brad Richards to find space for a pass to the left point. Defenseman Cam Fowler put a shot off the right post and in for his second goal of the postseason at 5:10.

Just as they did in Game 4, the Ducks struck again in short order. Silfverberg's shot from near the Blackhawks bench glanced off Hossa's stick, Kesler's stick and the ice before making it past a bewildered Crawford, who was moving to his left to stop a shot based on the original trajectory off Silfverberg's stick, at 5:42.

It was Kesler's sixth goal of the playoffs. He also had one of Anaheim's three goals in 37 seconds during Game 4.

Vatanen gave the Ducks a 3-0 lead at 14:37. Crawford made a fantastic save on Kesler to stop a 2-on-0 break, but Getzlaf beat Marcus Kruger on the ensuing faceoff, and the puck went back to Vatanen for a blast from the right point.

It was Vatanen's third goal of the playoffs, and the assist was Getzlaf's 18th point. His assist on the fourth Anaheim goal gave him 19, which is a new Ducks record for points in a single postseason, topping his total of 18 from 2009.

The Ducks scored as many goals in the first period as the Blackhawks had shots.

"We just weren't ready to survive the onslaught and we gave up a few too many chances," Toews said. "They did a good job of getting shots through traffic, and next thing you know we're down three goals and things aren't looking good, but as we always say, there's an unusual calm and just a resolve that we knew at that point of the game there was lots of tine left and it was going to [take] a heck of a job by them to try to hold us off the next two periods."

Teuvo Teravainen cut the lead to 3-1 with a goal 1:11 into the second period. Patrick Sharp broke up a Ducks pass in the neutral zone, and then Antoine Vermette one-touched it along to Teravainen. The 20-year-old rookie carried the puck into the offensive zone and snapped a shot through defenseman's Clayton Stoner legs from the top of the right circle for his second goal of the postseason.

Teravainen set up the next goal with some hustle and soft hands. He went in on the forecheck and disrupted Anaheim defensemen Francois Beauchemin and Hampus Lindholm behind the net. Sharp collected the rim attempt in the left corner and, after initially missing an open Vermette in the slot, sent the puck back to Teravainen behind the net. Brent Seabrook crept in from the right point and one-timed Teravainen's pass past Andersen with 24.8 seconds remaining in the period to make it 3-2.

Patrick Maroon's goal with 5:15 remaining in the third appeared to be the insurance goal the Ducks needed. Getzlaf sent the puck from near the left wall to Vatanen, who was all alone on the right side of the ice. Instead of shooting, Vatanen connected with Maroon on a perfect slap-pass at the far post for a tap-in goal. It was Maroon's sixth goal of the playoffs.

The Blackhawks are in a less than familiar position, down 3-2 in a series with a win-or-go-home Game 6 in less than two days. Chicago has been down 3-2 four times since 2010 and forced a Game 7 three times, including the 2014 Western Conference Final against the Los Angeles Kings.

"You've got to draw on everything you've got, every type of experience you've been in before and dig even for more than that and see what you got," Toews said. "Because we know how good this team is, we know how determined they are. And I think you definitely dig deep and ask yourself those questions, too, and you find out how much you've got. I think we're confident that we've got that character and we've got what it takes to win the next game and keep ourselves alive in this series."

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