By Jay Cohen
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
CHICAGO — Michal Handzus scored at 2:04 of the second overtime, and the Chicago Blackhawks beat the Los Angeles Kings 5-4 in Game 5 on Wednesday night to stay alive in the Western Conference final.
Brandon Saad made a nice pass to the middle, and Handzus beat goalie Jonathan Quick with a backhander for his second goal of the playoffs. Handzus celebrated by jumping against boards behind the net as the sellout crowd of 21,871 roared.
Saad had a goal and two assists for the defending Stanley Cup champions, who stopped a three-game losing streak. Brent Seabrook, Johnny Oduya and Ben Smith also scored, and Patrick Kane set a playoff career high with four assists.
Game 6 is Friday night in Los Angeles.
Marian Gaborik and Dustin Brown each had a goal and an assist, and Jarret Stoll and Tanner Pearson also scored for the Kings, who led 4-3 after two periods. It was Gaborik’s NHL-best 11th playoff goal.
Quick and Chicago’s Corey Crawford each stopped 40 shots.
Los Angeles was in position to advance to its second Stanley Cup final in three years before Smith drove to the net and swept in a rebound 1:17 into the third. Smith’s third goal of the playoffs set the stage for a frantic finish as both sides pushed for the winning score.
Kings centre Stoll was sent off for tripping with 3:11 left in the third, giving the Blackhawks a prime opportunity to move in front. Quick stopped Kane on a big slap shot, and then turned away Bryan Bickell in front to keep it tied at 4.
Quick made another solid stop on Marian Hossa in overtime, and the loose puck was swept away by the Kings. Los Angeles star Anze Kopitar had a chance to win it about 9 minutes into the first overtime but his shot went off the side of the net.
Crawford had a kick save on Stoll in the first overtime after Chicago captain Jonathan Toews turned it over in the Blackhawks’ zone.
Back at home for Game 5 after a disastrous stay in Los Angeles, the Blackhawks put together a terrific start. But the Kings weathered the storm and then stepped up their attack in the last part of the first period.
Los Angeles defenceman Drew Doughty was whistled for tripping just 30 seconds into the game, and Seabrook drove a slap shot by a screened Quick at 1:13 for Chicago’s first power-play goal since Game 2. The Blackhawks were unsuccessful on their previous eight chances with the man advantage.
Oduya and Saad added rebound goals as the Blackhawks built a 3-1 lead just 11:06 into the game. Chicago’s second line of Saad, Andrew Shaw and Kane was a headache for Los Angeles all night long, creating numerous high-quality scoring chances.
But the Kings grabbed the momentum back with a terrific sequence with 7 minutes left in the first. Quick made a great stop on Toews, and Kopitar set up Gaborik at the other end to get the Kings within one.
It was reminiscent of Game 2, when Quick denied Seabrook on a 2-on-1 and the Kings went on to score six straight goals in a 6-2 victory.
This time around, Brown had a nice rebound goal after Crawford made a great save on Gaborik, and Pearson made it 4-3 with a wrist shot from the right circle at 13:08 of second. Pearson deftly used Blackhawks defenceman Niklas Hjalmarsson as a screen on his fourth goal of the playoffs.
Quick also had an outstanding save on Saad from inside the goal early in the second.
Pearson’s goal stunned the sellout crowd, but it woke up again when Saad’s perfectly timed shot set up Smith’s tying score. Saad had a plus-4 rating in almost 24 minutes of ice time in one of the best games of his young career.
Shaw got tangled up with Kings defenceman Jake Muzzin along the boards with 3:03 remaining in regulation and his right leg buckled underneath him, sending the forward to the ice. He went to the locker room but returned for the first overtime.
NOTES: Los Angeles police say they are investigating a battery report from a fan who says Crawford sprayed water in his face during Game 4 at Staples Center. The report alleges Crawford used a water bottle to spray the face of the heckling fan, who was thrown out of the arena and later filed the complaint with police. Crawford did not speak with the media after the team’s Wednesday morning skate. ... Kings D Robyn Regehr missed his 11th straight game with a knee injury. ... Blackhawks F Brandon Bollig returned to the lineup after he was a healthy scratch for Game 4. He replaced Peter Regin.