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Ducks edge Blackhawks in Game 3, take series lead

by Corey Masisak /

CHICAGO -- At different points during the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs, there have been opportunities to compare these Anaheim Ducks to the two previous editions.

The Ducks provided another example Thursday of why the current group might be different than the previous two, which fell short in the postseason after very successful regular seasons.

Two days after losing late in the third overtime of Game 2, the Ducks came to United Center and grinded out a 2-1 victory against the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 3 of the Western Conference Final.

"That's [the media's] job to compare, not mine. I'm just here playing," Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf said. "We've learned a lot of things over the last couple of years in different playoff situations. Wins, losses, all that kind of stuff. We're growing as a group."

Teams that lose after playing for so long in an NHL postseason game historically have trouble rebounding from such a deflating defeat.

The Ducks killed off five power plays, including four in the first period, and held a one-goal lead for the entire third period to earn the Game 3 win. Anaheim survived thanks to 27 saves from goaltender Frederik Andersen, including 10 in the third, and two goals set up by Getzlaf.

The Ducks lead the best-of-7 series 2-1. Game 4 is Saturday in Chicago (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, TVA Sports).

"The will on this team, I've said all year from Day One, you could see it in training camp, you could see it in the preseason games," Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau said. "[The media] would talk to me and say there's a different aura about this group. We haven't won anything, but there is a resiliency that's as good as most."

Simon Despres' first career NHL playoff goal late in the second period was the difference.

Despres, acquired at the 2015 NHL Trade Deadline from the Pittsburgh Penguins, scored on a one-timer from outside the right faceoff circle off a pass from Getzlaf. After he got the puck back from defenseman Cam Fowler at the top of the Chicago zone, Getzlaf faked a shot and moved it to his right to Despres, who beat Chicago goalie Corey Crawford short side at 19:05.

"I'm not a goal-scorer," Despres said. "I just tried to hit the net and get it off as quick as possible."

Getzlaf's 14 assists are five more than anyone else in the postseason; the Ducks have played 12 games, four fewer than the Tampa Bay Lightning, three fewer than the New York Rangers and one fewer than the Blackhawks. His 16 points are tied with linemate Corey Perry and Lightning forward Nikita Kucherov for second behind Tampa Bay's Tyler Johnson, who has 18.

Ducks forward Patrick Maroon opened the scoring with a power-play goal at 12:55 of the first period. After a pass from Getzlaf to Hampus Lindholm, Maroon deflected the defenseman's shot in the high slot, and the puck slipped past Crawford with a little help from a screen by Perry at the edge of the crease. It was Maroon's fifth goal of the postseason.

The Blackhawks had more than seven minutes on the power play in the first period, including a double minor against the Ducks' Jakob Silfverberg for high sticking, but were unable to score. Chicago hit the post twice with the man-advantage, and a third time at even strength when defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson one-timed a Perry clearing attempt.

"We didn't have zone time. We didn't get them tired," Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said. "We're the ones getting tired because we had to keep breaking out. So, you know, I think that was a stretch there we didn't get the momentum where we should have put a little bit more heat on them. We had them taking penalties and we didn't make them pay."

Chicago did eventually score an equalizer late in the first. A Blackhawks rush appeared to be nullified when Brad Richards' pass hit Patrick Kane in the skate in the middle of the ice, but two Ducks swerved to avoid a collision and left Kane with the puck all alone in the slot.

Kane backhanded a shot past Andersen with 57 seconds left. It was his eighth goal of the postseason, but first of the series after scoring six in five games prior to the start of this round.

Andersen made 32 saves to help the Ducks win Game 1 of this series 4-1 at Honda Center.

Blackhawks forward Marcus Kruger scored late in the third overtime of Game 2 to earn Chicago a 3-2 victory and a split in Anaheim. Crawford made a career-high 60 saves in the longest game in Blackhawks history, and the second longest for the Ducks.

The Ducks responded two nights later, and they have regained control of the series.

It was the third time this postseason the Blackhawks followed a multi-overtime victory with a loss, after doing so twice against the Nashville Predators in a first-round series.

"It's probably not the way it's drawn up, but it's not surprising being in a close series like this, one-goal games," Blackhawks forward Patrick Sharp said. "They're a good team. I feel we're a good team as well. Learn as much as we can from the way they're playing, the way we're playing, and try to be better next time."


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