The Anaheim Ducks’ postseason fates rest in the pads of second-year goalkeeper Frederik Andersen, whose overall play has carried the squad to a 3-2 series lead over the Chicago Blackhawks in the Western Conference Finals.
But the 25-year-old has struggled of late, especially with two of the four goals he surrendered in a 5-4 overtime victory in Game 5. Anaheim held a 3-0 lead before Andersen gave up a wrist shot to Chicago’s Teuvo Teravainen and then he kicked center Jonathan Toews’ game-tying goal into the net with 38 seconds remaining.
Anderson still owns a .924 save percentage in the series, and give the Ducks their best chance to win Wednesday night’s crucial Game 6 at the United Center. And his teammates and coach are completely behind him.
“There’s no pointing fingers,” Anaheim center Andrew Cogliano told National Post. “Obviously, he wanted a few goals back. He’s won us games completely on his play. We needed to get him the win tonight. Chicago has got Crawford those two overtime wins when maybe (questionable) goals were going in in regulation, and tonight was our night.
“You know what? Goals are going to go in. This is the playoffs. Things happen. The momentum changes in a hurry. But he’ll respond. He’s a great goalie.”
Other than vying for their first trip to the Stanley Cup Finals since 2007, the Ducks and Andersen are hoping to avoid a Game 7 back home at the Honda Center on Saturday.
The Ducks are 2-4 all-time in Game 7s, having dropped their last two appearances in the decisive game the last two seasons, and their last win coming in 2006.
Chicago has a much deeper history when it comes to Game 7s, and have split their 12 appearances at 6-6, including last year’s 5-4 overtime letdown to the eventual champion Los Angeles Kings in the West Finals.
The Blackhawks proved they are capable of coming back against Anaheim’s high-powered attack in Game 5, even if it resulted in a loss despite Toews two goals.
But Chicago head coach Joel Quenneville will have to tinker with his defensive lines a bit, with the team still trying to recover from the loss of defenseman Michal Rozsival. Scrambling a bit, the Blackhawks went with 40-year-old Kimmo Timonen in Game 5 and Anaheim netted two of its three first-period goals.
And now according to the Chicago Tribune Quenneville could play rookie Trevor van Riemsdyk with David Rundblad missing in action since May 17. Van Riemsdyk has dealt with two injuries this season and was just called up.
Start Time: 8 p.m. ET
TV Channel: NBC Sports Network
Live Online: A live stream is available at NBC Sports Live Extra
Betting Odds: Blackhawks -1.5; o/v 5 goals
Prediction: Blackhawks over Ducks, 3-1