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article image'Hawks, Lightning only two still standing at NHL's playoff party

By Mark J. Allan     May 31, 2015 in Sports
Jonathan Toews was a true leader for the Chicago Blackhawks in a decisive NHL win Sunday, while counterpart Ryan Getzlaf came up short for the Anaheim Ducks.
Toews, one of the most all-around players and best team leaders in the game, scored twice early. That gave Chicago a lead it never relinquished in a 5-3 triumph that sent the ‘Hawks to the Stanley Cup final.
They will face the Tampa Bay Lightning, who eliminated the New York Rangers 2-0 Friday.
The score Saturday flattered the Ducks, who scored two late goals that never really threatened the outcome.
Toews beat rookie netminder Frederik Andersen by popping in a rebound only 2:23 into the game, adding a man-advantage score at 11:55.
Goals by speedy young winger Brandon Saad and crafty veteran Marian Hossa, with the eventual winner off his right skate amid some controversy, gave Chicago a commanding lead.
Key off-season acquisition Ryan Kesler breathed some life back into the Ducks with just 1:09 left in the second period.
Anaheim still faced a daunting three-goal shortage, especially since their opponents had won all 31 times this season when they led after 40 minutes.
Anaheim right winger Corey Perry, who’s tied for second with explosive ‘Hawk winger Patrick Kane at 10 goals each in the post-season, briefly cut the led to 4-2.
After veteran defenseman Brent Seabrook restored Chicago’s three-goal cushion on a power play, Matt Beleskey scored a truly meaningless power-play goal with 42 seconds left.
The Ducks, perhaps finally paying for starting the season with two untested goalies, got 21 saves from Andersen, who surrendered three goals on the first seven shots he faced. Corey Crawford stopped the puck when he had to at the other end, finishing with 35 saves.
Kane, who is tied for second with Getzlaf at 20 playoff points, added three assists in another of Chicago’s trademark big-game wins. Getzlaf had an assist, but finished minus-1 and looked lost killing penalties.
Veteran Chicago blueliner Duncan Keith assisted twice. Keith led all skaters on either team with 27:51 of ice time.
He’s a charter member of a talented core that has led the once-hapless ‘Hawks to three Stanley Cup finals and five conference finals in seven years.
Chicago’s record of big-game victories contrasts with a growing record of futility that is sticking to the Ducks, who lost a Game Seven at home for the third consecutive year.
The Blackhawks, seeking their third NHL title in six seasons, will open Wednesday in Tampa Bay.
Lightning 2 Rangers 0
Alex Killorn and Ondrej Palat scored in the final period as towering goalie Ben Bishop outdueled storied veteran Henrik Lundqvist.
The Swede made several brilliant stops to keep the Lightning off the scoresheet. Bishop again came up big against the Rangers, stretching his scoreless streak at Madison Square Garden to 145 minutes, 43 seconds.
Not bad after permitting five goals and being pulled at home the previous game.
Bishop thwarted a team that compiled a remarkable record of playoff success in recent seasons, especially when facing elimination. Before Friday, the Rangers had won 15 of their past 18 elimination games.
Perhaps the Rangers’ most valuable defenseman played Game Seven with a broken foot. Captain Ryan McDonagh didn’t play for the opening 12:41, but took a regular shift afterwards.
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