Beleskey on overtime game-winner: ‘That’s the biggest goal I’ve ever scored’

The Anaheim Ducks were mad. 

They watched their hot start disappear and their stifling system was suddenly letting in air. So they played mad and they stayed mad and it worked: They came back from the brink to score just 45 seconds into overtime to beat the Chicago Blackhawks 5-4 in Game 5 of the Western Conference Final.

Anaheim is now a single win away from reaching their first Stanley Cup Final appearance in eight years. 

"That was as big as it gets for us. We needed that win," Cogliano said. "Bruce (Boudreau) made a good point: It wasn’t about hanging our heads. He just said, ‘Get pissed off and this is our time to score.’"

Matt Beleskey, demoted to fourth line to start the game and moved back up to the second to end it, caught a rebound and made a toe drag move to a wide open net, effectively ending the game and giving Anaheim a 3-2 series lead.

"That’s the biggest goal I’ve ever scored," Beleskey said. "We’re one game away from a Stanley Cup berth. That was a huge goal. Felt unbelievable."

But no one is breathing any sort of relief just yet. As winger Andrew Cogliano said, they haven’t won anything yet. 

Just to get to this point – with a chance to clinch the Western Conference Final Wednesday night at the United Center in Chicago — it took a roller coaster ride that was finally steered back on track, away from what almost could have been a collision course with the offseason.  

"Ducks hockey: It’s not for the faint of heart," said center Ryan Kesler "We like to make thing interesting in here."

Through their first 12 games of the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Ducks had only allowed a total of three third-period goals. In the last two games, they’ve allowed five. After coming out as hot as they had all series in the first period, they stumbled to the finish.

How did they get there? Their once-unflappable goaltender, Frederik Andersen, was flapped. 

"He had an unfortunate couple of goals against him today," Boudreau said. "Freddie will be the first one to tell you he should have had them."

Up 4-2 with less than two minutes left to play, they allowed two goals to Chicago captain Jonathan Toews. The second of which was an easy save in any other game. Until Monday night, he had the best save percentage of all remaining goalies. That title goes to the New York Rangers’ Henrik Lundqvist now. 

Andersen has now played in 84 games this season, the most he’s ever played. Naturally, the question of fatigue exists. But if any exists, he’d never say. 

"Probably not," he said, without a hint of emotion behind it. 

Andersen has been near robotic both with the media and in goal, always keeping the same steely demeanor. The rare celebratory fist-pump in a clinching game might be the only exception. 

But the robot malfunctioned in Game 5, and those close with him say he’s brooding behind that calm exterior.

"I’m pretty close with him and I can see that he’s not happy," Cogliano said. "But things happen for a reason, and maybe this is a good thing. He didn’t have the game he wanted and maybe when we need him the most, he’s going to come out and play as good as he possibly can."

It was an off night for a goalie that has, at times, looked unbeatable throughout the postseason. But when Andersen needed them the most, but the Ducks channeled his calm demeanor and backed up their backstop. 

"You know what? He’s played so many good games in a row, and he’s bailed us out so often," Boudreau said. "But it was time that we bailed him out."

The anger is nothing but fuel, and Andersen and his teammates have a full tank for Game 6.