(SportsNetwork.com) - The Anaheim Ducks finally figured out how to beat the Chicago Blackhawks in overtime. As a result, they'll get a chance to punch a ticket to the Stanley Cup Finals when they visit the Windy City for Game 6 on Wednesday night.
The top-seeded Ducks entered Game 5 against visiting Chicago tied at 2-2 in the Western Conference finals with both of the Blackhawks' victories coming in overtime. On Monday, however, it was Anaheim's turn to play OT heroes, as the Ducks claimed a 5-4 victory to move one win away from returning to the Cup Finals for the first time since 2007 when they beat Ottawa for the franchise's lone title.
While the previous two OT encounters were marathon affairs, Game 5 ended less than a minute into the extra session when Matt Beleskey scored on a rebound to send the home crowd into a celebratory frenzy.
Beleskey scored just 45 seconds into overtime to lift Anaheim to victory in the pivotal battle. Following a failed Chicago dump-in, Jakob Silfverberg sent a stretch pass up to Ryan Kesler, who embarked on a 2-on-1 into the Blackhawks zone. Corey Crawford kicked aside Kesler's wrist shot, but the rebound went straight to Beleskey, who lifted the puck into the top of the net for the victory.
The overtime goal was the second fastest in franchise playoff history. Steve Thomas scored 39 seconds into the extra frame on June 2, 2003 for a 1-0 victory against New Jersey in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup finals
"That's the biggest goal I've ever scored. It's a great feeling any time you do that, especially at home," said Beleskey. "We're one game away from a Stanley Cup berth. It was a huge goal and it felt unbelievable."
After a triple-overtime loss in Game 2 of the Western Conference finals -- the longest game in Blackhawks history -- and a double-OT setback in Game 4 on Saturday, the Ducks finally broke through against Chicago beyond the third period.
The dramatic victory came after the Blackhawks managed to erase a 4-2 deficit in the last two minutes of regulation thanks to a pair of goals from captain Jonathan Toews.
If Anaheim had lost Game 5, it would be easy to blame goaltender Frederik Andersen, who allowed Toews to score the game-tying goal from a tough angle with just 38 seconds left in the third period. Andersen was sitting back in the net and didn't see Toews, who won a battle for the puck in the left corner, shoot from the icing line.
But before the Blackhawks could dig in for another long OT battle, the Ducks pounced on the Chicago miscue and pushed their combatants to the brink of elimination.
Anaheim captain Ryan Getzlaf said the Ducks played a tentative brand of hockey in the previous OT clashes against Chicago, but changed their approach in Game 5. In Game 4, the Blackhawks suffered through a third-period collapse in which they allowed three goals in a 37-second span, but they regrouped to tie the game late in regulation before winning early in the second overtime period.
Anaheim duplicated Chicago's resilient performance a few days later, putting an unfortunate ending to regulation to rest with a burst of intensity in OT.
"You're playing elite teams that aren't going to give up at any point," Getzlaf said. "We've had two overtime games against them that we've lost, and in those games we went into overtime trying not to lose. We went out there and executed what we wanted to do. We came up with a big play early on."
Sami Vatanen and Kesler each tallied a goal and an assist, Cam Fowler also lit the lamp and Getzlaf and Silfverberg each supplied two assists. Andersen made 24 saves for the Ducks.
Getzlaf has 19 points (2G, 17A) this spring to set a new franchise record for most points in a postseason, surpassing his previous record of 18 set in 2009. He has seven assists in this series.
Teuvo Teravainen and Brent Seabrook each finished with a goal and a helper, and Crawford stopped 23 shots for the Blackhawks, who fell to 4-1 in OT games this postseason. Monday's tilt was the first time the club didn't go into at least the second extra session this spring.
The Blackhawks fell behind 3-0 in the first period of Game 5 before drawing within one with two goals in the second. Patrick Maroon restored Anaheim's two-goal cushion with 5:15 left in the third, but that's when Toews led Chicago's comeback.
Trailing 4-2, Crawford was pulled in favor of an extra attacker. The Blackhawks' hungry forecheck forced a turnover in the offensive zone and Toews one-timed Marian Hossa's dish from the left circle over Andersen's shoulder for a 4-3 game with 1:50 to play.
A mere 72 seconds later, Toews evened the score with his wrister from a difficult angle.
"I think we always show that we can always dig ourselves out of those holes," said Toews. "I think going into overtime we were feeling that the game was in our hands and we're going to get that next break so it's unfortunate that we couldn't take advantage of it."
If Chicago is able to stay alive with a win tonight, the clubs will meet Saturday in Anaheim for a decisive Game 7.
This marks the first elimination game in the 2015 playoffs for the Blackhawks. Since 2008-09, they are 9-4 in elimination games and 3-1 in Game 6s when trailing in a series.