The Blackhawks are becoming the kings of overtime. With two wins now, one in an 3rd OT, and the last one in 2nd OT to even the series against a Ducks team that looked close to taking those two games and ending the series. In Game 4, Chicago allowed the Ducks to score three goal in 37 seconds in third to take it to overtime. This matchup always promised to be a good one, but right now predicting who will win and how has been almost impossible as the craziness ensues on the ice.
The Chicago Blackhawks, who were abdesperate not to get behind 3-1 in the series, on Saturday night scored on another soccer-type play harkening back to Shaw’s head butted and disallowed goal — but this time it counted, and gave the Blackhawks a two-goal, third-period lead. With the same unpredictability they quickly blew that lead by giving up the second-fastest three goals by one team in playoff history. Despite the setback, they still were able to get great performances from all their best players after sweating it out in a double-overtime thriller.
“My group finds ways,” Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said postgame with a tone of amazement his tired voice. “It was one of those stretches where our guys find ways instead of looking for the out. It’s an amazing group. Tonight is a good illustration of it.”
Antoine Vermette won it 5-4 for the Blackhawks at 5:37 into double overtime. He scored on his own rebound. This surprise overtime hero was a longshot considering he sat out Game 3, as did rookie Teuvo Teravainen, who assisted on the game winner. They skated with heavy legs toward the end of game, desperately looking for a quick goal as the time lagged on, a painful reminder for those players whose bodies were being reminded of the triple-overtime marathon just four days earlier. Luckily for Chicago they were able to repeat the win.
“I think this series has been played very tight but there’s a lot of pace to it, and all of a sudden things can be unpredictable,” said Quenneville to media. “We’ve had some crazy endings with them in past seasons, as well. We saw a crazy third period, then back to normal. But it can’t be any more even than what I saw in four games.”
“I guess when it rains it pours, in some moments, especially today for us in the third,” said Hawks captain Jonathan Toews. “I think a lot of teams wouldn’t feel too good about themselves. We did a great job of staying calm, collecting ourselves. It is what it is. You can’t change it. You have to move forward, find a way to get yourself back in the game.”
Vermette, who was landed at the trade deadline to add more offensive punch to the top 9 has struggled in his short time in Chicago, and sitting out Game 3 wasn’t easy but probably was the motivation he needed to perform. He told reporters about the game winner:
“I was here, in the building, in the dressing room like the other guys. Did a workout there, watching the game (on TV). As a proud competitor, you want to be part of the team. You think you can help. That’s a natural emotion you get. At the same time you don’t want to make an individual a story. The main focus is about the team’s success. So I’m glad we won tonight.”
“We’re ticked off and everything else.” – Ducks’ Coach Bruce Boudreau
The Ducks aren’t down though. Let alone out of this battle.
“If you look at all four games, you know, they’ve been all tremendous hockey games. One has to lose, one has to win,” said Ducks’ coach Bruce Boudreau post game. “Usually when one of the teams makes a mistake, a good team capitalizes on it. That’s what happened. We had our chances again to win it, but it didn’t happen. So we’ll just regroup. Now it’s a two-out-of-three… Let’s put that one behind us now. Sure, we’re ticked off and everything else. But we got a game in two days.”
“We’ve got a double-overtime loss and a triple-overtime loss now, and that could be a tough pill to swallow,” said Ducks fast-skating defenceman Cam Fowler. “But you can also use it as motivation. We’re going back to Anaheim, and we’re in a heck of a series now. There’s no time to dwell on anything. We’re a resilient group in here. You’ve got to roll with the punches.”
And one of those punches could be a knockout one, in this exciting yet perplexing series of heavy weights who are most likely going to have to take this to 12 rounds to get a winner.
Our Pick: Ducks over Hawks in Game 5