In the 2015 Western Conference Finals the Blackhawks trailed the Anaheim Ducks 1-0 going into Game 2 at Honda Center in Anaheim. After blowing an early 2-0 lead, the Hawks found themselves in another long and grueling overtime battle. One overtime was not enough. After Andrew Shaw’s disallowed header, two overtimes were not enough. Then, in what became the longest game in Blackhawks franchise history, Marcus Kruger went to the front of the net and shoveled the puck past Andersen to give the Blackhawks the win, and tie the series heading back to Chicago.
This was one of the most exhausting games to watch in recent memory. Obviously triple OT playoff games are rare, but it seems like the Hawks find themselves in them every year. This was the second one of the 2015 playoffs, and it didn’t end until well after midnight. After Shaw’s disallowed header, it seemed like the Hawks had possibly lost their chance and their spark. But Corey Crawford stood tall through the rest of overtime, pushing back some furious Anaheim chances. Kruger did what every hockey player is taught, he went to the front of the net and found the puck on his stick and buried it. The amazing part of this goal was all of the hand-eye coordination it took. Seabrook slapping the puck from the point out of mid-air, and then Kruger re-directing it in the middle of the air and into the net. It really was one of the quite extraordinary OT goals in NHL history.
This goal by Kruger was just another example of what has made the Stanley Cup Playoffs so special throughout its history. Long and exciting overtime games that thrill fans for hours on end. Also, the narrative of the unsung hero, which Kruger definitely was. Unexpected heroes stepping up in big moments, that’s what defines the playoffs, and sports. Kruger’s goal gave the Blackhawks home-ice advantage going back to Chicago. They would lose it in Game 3, but battle back to win the series in seven games. Arguably the hardest series for the Blackhawks in the past six seasons.
Let’s also not forget that Game 2 should have been over a lot earlier than triple overtime… Dumb rule!
#14 coming tomorrow…