Antoine Vermette (Photo by Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images)
Antoine Vermette was the unlikely hero of Game 4, with a double-overtime goal to lift the Chicago Blackhawks over the Anaheim Ducks 5-4 and tie the Western Conference final at two games a piece.
The Chicago Blackhawks have drawn even with the Anaheim Ducks in the Western Conference final thanks to the double-overtime heroics of one-time healthy scratch Antoine Vermette.
Vermette, who sat out Game 3, returned to the lineup to score the 5-4 game-winner 5:37 into the second overtime period on Saturday night.
Patrick Sharp and Teuvo Teravainen did the dirty work on Vermette's goal, working the puck along the Anaheim boards so Vermette could get wide open and take a swipe at the net from the slot. The Ducks blocked the first shot but Vermette corralled the puck and managed to flip it over Ducks goalie Frederik Andersen from the side of the net, bringing the marathon game to a close.
The goal meant a small measure of redemption for Vermette, who has largely been a bust after arriving in Chicago via trade from Arizona at the deadline. He had just three assists in 19 games with the Blackhawks in the regular season, and now has two goals and an assist in 11 post-season games.
Vermette's winner ended the second overtime game in the series, which followed mere days after the triple overtime epic in Game 2.
The double overtime put more hard minutes on Blackhawks stalwart Duncan Keith, but he was up for the task. Keith played a game-high 40:39, followed closely by partner Niklas Hjalmarsson and his 39:13.
No. 6 defenceman Kimmo Timonen, meanwhile, played just 10:15.
Brandon Saad opened the scoring with a shorthanded Chicago tally at the end of the first, then Emerson Etem took credit for Anaheim’s matching goal in the second period, after Kyle Palmieri put a shot in off Etem’s pants.
But the real fireworks came in the third period, when Anaheim potted three goals in 37 seconds and the Blackhawks responded with three of their own in 10:01.
Both goalies played well but Corey Crawford had the edge over Frederik Andersen. Crawford stopped 47 shots, including 17 in the first overtime period to withstand wave after wave of Ducks attackers. He also kept his cool under pressure from Ducks pests Corey Perry and Ryan Kesler all night.
Andersen stopped 35 of 40 shots in the loss, but he still had the save of the night.
The Ducks netminder dazzled with a leg save against Patrick Sharp on the breakaway, holding his team in the game during the first overtime period.
The series now shifts back to Anaheim for Game 5 on Monday.