Antoine Vermette turned a huge disappointment into a moment of pure joy. That is how it goes for the Blackhawks when the playoffs go to overtime.Vermette scored at 5:37 of the second extra session, and the Blackhawks beat the Anaheim Ducks 5-4 on Saturday night to tie the Western Conference finals at two games apiece.
“I’m glad he finished it for us,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “That was a huge goal for us. Huge, goal, huge.”
For the second time, the Hawks put the pressure squarely on Anaheim to prove it can withstand the gutshot of losing a game it deserved to win.Antoine Vermette proves himself with winning goal for Blackhawks. Antoine Vermette kept mostly quiet after he was a healthy scratch in Game 3, and his play did the talking in Game 4 as he returned to net the winner.The Ducks’ third-period flurry would’ve doomed many teams with a lesser pedigree, but the Blackhawks hung in, answered and finally prevailed in Game 4.Vermette, who said he was surprised and disappointed when he was left out of the lineup for the Hawks 2-1 loss in Game 3, was stopped on his first try in front but stayed with the rebound and shot it over Frederik Andersen for his second goal of the playoffs. He then skated over to the corner and was mobbed by his teammates as the season-high crowd of 22,404 cheered wildly.Vermette worked out at the United Center during the Blackhawks’ first home playoff loss Thursday night. He wanted to stay ready if he got back in the lineup — and he made the most of another opportunity.
“At this time of the year, you don’t want to make an individual or a personal story,” said Vermette, acquired from Arizona at the trade deadline. “The main focus is about the team’s success. That’s all that matters. I’m glad we won tonight.”
Game 5 is Monday night in Anaheim.Brandon Saad had a goal and two assists for the Hawks, and captain Jonathan Toews had a goal and an assist. Patrick Kane scored for the second straight game, and Corey Crawford finished with 47 saves — helping the Blackhawks stay alive when the Ducks had a big push in the first extra session.Ryan Kesler, Corey Perry and Matt Beleskey scored for Anaheim in a 37-second stretch of the third, and Andersen had 35 saves. Emerson Etem also scored.
“We always talk about highs and lows in the playoffs and we learn and move on,” Perry said. “It’s one game. We still have home-ice advantage. We were right there.”
Anaheim also lost to the Hawks in triple overtime in Game 2. The Blackhawks are 4-0 in overtime in the playoffs, becoming the first team to win four multiple-overtime games in the same postseason.
“We have that experience,” Kane said. “We’ve been in these situations before. We’re accustomed to playing in these types of games, whether it’s going to overtime or tight games. We try to stay calm and do whatever we can to get the next one.”
Etem’s third goal of the playoffs tied it at one late in the second, setting the stage for a wild finish to regulation.Toews’ wrist shot over a prone Andersen got the lead back for the Hawks at 2:38, and Brent Seabrook made it 3-1 on a big slap shot five minutes later. It was the first goal of the conference finals for Toews, who has been wrestling with Kesler all over the ice for most of the series.The Ducks responded with a frenzied rally, silencing the big crowd. First, Kesler beat Crawford for his fifth goal of the playoffs at 8:42, and then Beleskey used Blackhawks defenseman Kimmo Timonen as a screen for perfectly placed wrister that tied it at three. Perry capped the dazzling stretch with a rebound score for Anaheim’s first lead at 9:19.
“It was a good sign for this team,” center Andrew Cogliano said. “We didn’t give up. We battled back and got the goals that we needed to, but ultimately, they won and the series is tied.”
The three goals in 37 seconds were the second-fastest three playoff goals scored by one team in NHL history. Toronto scored three times in 23 seconds against the Atlanta Flames on April 12, 1979, with Quenneville assisting on the final goal in that stretch for the Maple Leafs.And there was still one more goal to go in the third.The only penalty of the period was a holding whistle on Ducks winger Jakob Silfverberg, and the Hawks turned it into Kane’s tying score at 12:39. Kane slid Richards’ pass underneath Andersen, and the goaltender’s momentum helped carry the puck just past the goal line.
“When they came back, we kept playing,” Crawford said.
The Hawks turned a big break into the lead in the first period.With Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook in the box for slashing, Saad got the puck along the boards in his defensive zone. Ducks defenseman Francois Beauchemin then got tangled up with referee Chris Rooney, and Saad took off for a breakaway.Kesler made one last try to break up the rush, but Saad deftly knocked his stick away before beating Andersen into the upper right corner with 47 seconds left. It was Saad’s first goal since Game 1 of the second round against Minnesota.
NOTES—Teuvo Teravainen also returned to the lineup after he was scratched for Game 3. … Beauchemin got his 27th career playoff assist on Etem’s goal, passing Scott Niedermayer for the top spot on the franchise list for defensemen. … Former major league slugger Paul Konerko, who had his No. 14 retired by the White Sox earlier in the day, and new Bears coach John Fox attended the game.