Anaheim’s Matt Beleskey needed only 45 seconds of overtime to end Game 5 of the Western Conference final, which is nearly as shocking as the fact Chicago tied the game. It’s the first overtime game of the series that hasn’t gone to at least two extra frames and the first time this post-season the Blackhawks have lost in overtime.
When overtime of Game 5 of the Western Conference final began Monday evening, the average bet on how long overtime was going to last likely would have been in the two- to three-overtime range. After all, twice the Anaheim Ducks and Chicago Blackhawks had gone to at least double overtime and it appeared we were in for another marathon in Game 5.
So it was almost more surprising than Jonathan Toews‘ late-game contest-tying heroics that overtime didn’t make it out of the first minute. What started with a turnover at the Anaheim blueline by Bryan Bickell ended with Matt Beleskey sealing the deal — and the incredibly important series lead — for the Ducks.
You have to feel for Bickell there. The chances of his slapshot towards goal careening off a skate and somehow being turned up ice were fairly slim, yet that’s exactly what caught the Blackhawks in the midst of a change. But once the puck was up ice, the Ducks’ play on the 2-on-1 was a thing of beauty.
It started with Ryan Kesler‘s shot, which was perfectly placed and made Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford reach down with his blocker to stop it. Had Crawford not made the save, that puck was likely destined for the back of the net and there was little he could have done about the rebound it offered. And on the rebound from Kesler’s tricky shot, Beleskey buried the puck into an open net to give Anaheim a 3-2 series lead.
All told, a series that has exhausted both teams with several overtime periods through four games was over in 45 seconds of play in the first overtime of Game 5. Now, the Ducks head into Chicago Wednesday night with the chance to end the Blackhawks’ season.
The goal was Beleskey’s seventh of the post-season and third game-winning goal. Set to become an unrestricted free agent this summer, it looks like the 26-year-old left winger keeps upping his asking price.