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Cullen: Kane and Saad lead Blackhawks to Game Five win

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Scott Cullen
5/29/2014 8:32:34 AM
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Of all people, Michal Handzus scored in double overtime to keep the Chicago Blackhawks alive, with a 5-4 Chicago win in Game Five sending the series back to Los Angeles.

Handzus has been maligned through the postseason, even acknowledging his struggles -- as though it's his fault that the Blackhawks frequently pin their second-line centre hopes on a 37-year-old centre who last scored more than 30 points in 2009-2010 -- but he still had the wherewithal to handle a pass in his skates, deke to the backhand and lift the puck over Kings G Jonathan Quick for the game-winner.

Handzus was set up on the game-winning play by LW Brandon Saad, the Blackhawks' 21-year-old man-child who was a force all night, picking up a goal and two assists, finishing with seven shots on goal and 10 shot attempts (Marian Hossa, with 11, and Bryan Bickell, with 10, were other Blackhawks with double-digit shot attempts). Saad now has 13 points in the postseason, two points behind Chicago's team leaders.

One of those leaders is Patrick Kane, the talented winger who had managed one assist in the first four games of the series, but delivered a big game for Chicago in Game Five, putting up four assists. The only other player in Blackhawks history to register four assists in a playoff games was Steve Larmer, agsinst St. Louis April 30, 1990.

Kane and Saad also had the best possession numbers for the Blackhawks in the game. With Kane on the ice, at 5-on-5, the Blackhawks had 28 shot attempts for and 16 against (63.6%); with Kane off the ice, the Blackhawks had 46.0% of the shot attempts. Over the past four games, Saad has been on for 68 of 103 5-on-5 shot attempts (66.0%).

Blackhawks D Johnny Oduya had a goal and an assist, giving him 15 points in 40 playoff games, which ranks 11th among defencemen over the past two seasons.

Blackhawks RW Andrew Shaw had quite a game, picking up a couple assists and tying Bryan Bickell for the team lead with eight hits, doing so while playing on a clearly injured right leg after getting tangled up with Kings D Jake Muzzin.

For the Kings, captain Dustin Brown is relishing his return to Anze Kopitar's wing and scored a goal and an assist, with a team-leading eight hits. Marian Gaborik also had a goal and an assist for the Kings; it was Gaborik's playoff-leading 11th goal.

The standout for the Kings was D Drew Doughty, who didn't register a point, but had nine shots on goal and a dozen shot attempts, in a game-high 39:04 of ice time.

Both goaltenders, Corey Crawford and Jonathan Quick had ups and downs throughout the game, but each ended up stopping 40 shots in a game that saw the Blackhawks outshoot the Kings 45-44, and out-attempt them 81-76. It was close and competitive, and included a thrilling overtime period as the Blackhawks staved off elimination in front of their home crowd. The kind of game that makes fans yearn for more between these two teams.

Now, it's to Game Six, back in Los Angeles and Chicago, which seemed to be on its last legs going into Game Five, has some life. They still need to win two more against a Kings team that has been playing tremendous hockey, but we've seen momentum swings in this year's playoffs -- teams losing multi-goal leads in games and multi-game leads in series -- that should hearten the Blackhawks. If they can find a way to take Game Six, they'll get Game Seven back in Sweet Home Chicago.

Scott Cullen can be reached at Scott.Cullen@bellmedia.ca and followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/tsnscottcullen. For more, check out TSN Fantasy on Facebook.

Brandon Saad (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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