After going without a goal, and held to only one assist, through the first three games of the Western Conference Final, Jonathan Toews finally scored for the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday.
And what a beauty it was, as Toews showed plenty of patience as he roofed the puck over a sprawled Frederik Andersen. That gave the Blackhawks the lead in the third period. They would cough it up, allowing three Anaheim goals in 37 seconds, before coming back and winning in double overtime to even the series.
The pressure had been mounting on Chicago’s top forwards.
Toews has had to go up against Ryan Kesler throughout this series, with the two jousting and slashing and chirping during various moments in Game 4. His line that includes Marian Hossa and Brandon Saad had some dominant shifts, too, and was rewarded in the third period.
“I kind of feel that pressure all the time. I know it’s there. Most of it I put on myself. Just in some ways got to stay patient and not show any frustration or show any sign of anything snowballing in the wrong direction for my own game,” Toews told reporters.
“I think as a line with Hoss and Saad, we generated a lot. Finally got a bounce. That’s what I was waiting for. Made a difference in the game. Hopefully can continue that confidence that scoring gives you. Continue to make big plays. Whether on the goal score, contributing on the play, whatever the situation might be, you know, to try to get our team on the board, but be responsible on the defensive side, as well.”
In a post-game interview with NBC hockey analyst Pierre McGuire immediately following his OT heroics, Vermette admitted it was “not the ideal situation,” but stressed the need for a “good attitude” after being a healthy scratch — a curious decision from head coach Joel Quenneville to say the least — in Game 3.
“They’re so competitive. They want to play in the worst way and they want more ice time, as well,” Quenneville told reporters after the win.
“You can understand where he was at. Very disappointed. He’s a great pro. Stayed with it. That line had a couple looks in overtime. I’m glad he finished it for us. That was a huge goal for us. Huge, goal, huge.”
Vermette scored the winner at 5:37 of the second overtime, pushing the Blackhawks to a 5-4 victory in a thriller against the Anaheim Ducks that evens the Western Conference Final at two games apiece.
Head coach Joel Quenneville explained that his decision to remove Vermette and Teuvo Teravainen on Thursday was to get some “fresh legs” in the lineup.
Back on the ice Saturday, Teravainen contributed an assist on the winner in 18:07 of ice time. But Vermette came through with a huge goal for the Blackhawks, and his second of the post-season, ensuring this series goes a minimum of six games.
Via @EliasSports: @NHLBlackhawks are the first team in NHL history to win 4 games in a single postseason that required at least 2 overtimes.
It also capped off a thoroughly entertaining game that saw six goals scored in 10 minutes in the third period.
The two teams entered the third period tied 1-1. Jonathan Toews, with his first of the series, and Brent Seabrook scored to give Chicago a two-goal lead on home ice. But the Ducks, masters of third-period comebacks in these playoffs, scored three times in 37 seconds to take back the lead in stunning fashion.
Patrick Kane scored on a power play, which had been an area the Blackhawks had struggled in during this series, jamming the puck by Frederik Andersen to eventually send this game to overtime.
The Chicago Blackhawks were outshot 17-5 in the first overtime in Game 4, but had two golden chances to win it and even the Western Conference Final with the Anaheim Ducks at two games apiece.
The first came on a scramble in the Anaheim crease, as Andrew Shaw hit the cross bar on a rebound opportunity to the right of Frederik Andersen. Credit Hampus Lindholm for immediately clearing the puck out of harm’s way, with Jonathan Toews looking at an open net.
And then there was Patrick Sharp, on a breakaway late in the extra period. Sent in all alone, he was unable to beat Andersen on the glove side.
What a third period between the Anaheim Ducks and Chicago Blackhawks in Game 4.
The Ducks scored three goals in 37 seconds to take the lead from the Blackhawks, who had previously jumped out to a two-goal lead of their own on goals from Jonathan Toews, his first of this series, and Brent Seabrook.
But suddenly, the Ducks came back in stunning fashion. First, it was Ryan Kesler to get Anaheim back within a goal. Matt Beleskey tied it up and Corey Perry gave the Ducks the lead.
Now, the Blackhawks came back with a power play goal from Patrick Kane to tie the game at 4-4. That’s six goals in 10 minutes, one second.