The Western conference finals in the NHL are tied at 2-2 once more, as the Chicago Blackhawks need a double overtime game to tie things up against the Anaheim Ducks, this time getting a goal from Antoine Vermette to electrify the season-high crowd inside the United Center.
Vermette was left out of the lineup in game 3, something he felt very disappointed with, but worked out during the loss in game 3, the Blackhawks’ first at home in the postseason, and looked focused and determined in game 4, scoring his second goal of the postseason, which happens to be the second multiple-overtime goal and game winner for the Blackhawks in this series, which looks like another one that will come down to a game 7.
The first period was mostly about hard hits and players getting penalized, while Brandon Saad (finished with a +3 during his time on the ice) scored a shorthanded goal, the only one of the period. In the second period we got just one goal as well, this time from Emerson Etem of the Ducks to tie things up. Then things got wild in the third period, with six goals.
The Blackhawks started strong with two goals in the first 7:38 from Jonathan Toews and Brent Seabrook. The Ducks bounced back with strikes by Ryan Kesler, Matt Beleskey and Corey Perry (his ninth of the postseason), turning the thing around to take a 4-3 lead in just 91 seconds since the Blackhawks took their own two goal lead. The answer from Patrick Kane didn’t take long to come.
We have that experience. 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. When they came back, we kept playing. The main focus is about the team’s success. That’s all that matters. I’m glad we won tonight.
Kane scored his ninth goal of the playoffs on a power play with less than 7 minutes remaining in the third period. He slid a pass from Brad Richards under Frederik Andersen, using the goaltender’s momentum to carry the puck past the line and tie the game at 4-4. Andersen made 35 saves in the game, Chris Crawford had 47, including 21 during the two overtime periods, handling a huge amount of pressure from the Ducks.
The Ducks will look back at this one as a missed opportunity, but we’re heading back to Anaheim for the rest of this series, which has been a bit closer in the games themselves than its Eastern counterpart. The Blackhawks are trying to avoid losing in the conference finals for a second straight year, but it’s going to have to be about more than dramatic goals to win the series (and maybe the Stanley Cup) against a Ducks team that overall has been outplaying them in the four games.
We always talk about highs and lows in the playoffs and we learn and move on. It’s one game. We still have home-ice advantage. We were right there. It was a good sign for this team. 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.