The Western Conference series if officially all tied up after the Chicago Blackhawks pulled out a 3-2 win in triple overtime. Fatigue is certainly a factor now for both Chicago and the Anaheim Ducks as they officially played two hockey games in one night. However, with the series tied up neither team can afford to take it easy as things shift to the Windy City for a Thursday night matchup.
Defense has been in the spotlight during this series as the top four defensemen for Chicago and the fourth line of Anaheim continue to outshine everyone else. However, in Game 2 it was the goalies that were the heroes of the game. Corey Crawford has come a long way since getting pulled from the net in the first-round series. He finished Game 2 with 60 saves while getting credited for the win. There was certainly doubt surrounding him. Crawford gave up three goals on 12 shots in the game against Nashville where he was promptly pulled from. Scott Darling took his spot until Game 6. Frederik Andersen was no slouch either despite the loss as he got 53 stops. However, Marcus Kruger got the best of him for the game-winning goal. In total, Andersen has shined this postseason, giving up just 22 goals with a 6-2 record.
Now everyone returns on short rest for a critical Game 3 in Chicago. The Blackhawks are currently undefeated in the playoffs on home ice which could make all the difference in this game. Both teams admit that fatigue is a factor. Brad Richards, Jonathan Toews and Niklas Hjalmarsson are critical in this series and all admitted the cross-country flight after the game has them exhausted. The team that can maintain the intensity will likely get the win in Game 3.
"You try to beat it the best as possible," Richards said, via NHL.com. "[We] tried to get our meals in [after Game 2], get as much sleep as we could. A lot of guys tried to get some good sleep on the plane. But that's about it. That's all you can really do. It's the same. They [had] to fly [Wednesday], too. We're in the same boat."
The Blackhawks have been in this position before. They were forced into several multiple overtime games against the Predators and made it out just fine. Anaheim is coming into a difficult place to play after their first home loss so whichever team can respond the best will grab the series lead.