Antoine Vermette was a healthy scratch in Game 3, but the Anaheim Ducks were left wishing he'd remained out of the lineup as his double overtime goal lifted the Chicago Blackhawks to a 5-4 victory in a wild Game 4 win Saturday night.
The victory ties the series at two games apiece as the scene shifts back to Anaheim for Game 5 on Monday night.
The Blackhawks needed to come out of the gate strong in this game, and that’s exactly what they did. The bottom six forwards generated some nice chances, with Teuvo Teravainen and Antoine Vermette both jumping into the play as they looked to respond positively to being scratched in Game 1. None of the early chances would fall the Hawks’ way, and Frederik Andersen made every save he needed to.
Jakob Silfverberg gave the Blackhawks a power play near the middle of the period, but in spite of quadrupling their shots on goal total from Game 3 on the man-advantage, the Hawks still couldn’t score. Bryan Bickell and Andrew Shaw provided some excellent netfront presence for the Blackhawks in the sequence, but Andersen made a couple of key saves on deflections in front.
The Ducks got a power play of their own late in the period as Brent Seabrook was sent off for slashing, but it was Chicago that gained the advantage as a result. After a collision with an official knocked Francois Beauchemin out of the play, Brandon Saad grabbed the loose puck, flew up the ice, and ripped a wrist shot past Andersen to give the Blackhawks a 1-0 lead through 20 minutes of play.
Early in the second period, the Ducks’ push back was thwarted by the Blackhawks. Jonathan Toews barely missed on a backhanded attempt near the front of the net, and then Marian Hossa had a quality scoring chance as well as he drove hard to the net off the goal line. Both plays ended with Andersen saves, and the Ducks kept the deficit at one goal.
A Corey Perry penalty gave the Blackhawks a power play later in the period, but the Ducks were given a reprieve as Chicago’s tight passing from the first period went by the wayside. They were barely able to generate any scoring chances, and Anaheim seemed to gain momentum from the failure.
Toews was sent to the box late in the period, and Corey Crawford really stepped up his game. He made a big save on Hampus Lindholm on a point shot, and then kicked across the crease to stop a Matt Beleskey rebound attempt.
Those saves helped the Blackhawks kill off the penalty, but ultimately Anaheim was able to convert when the game returned to even strength. Niklas Hjalmarsson’s clearing attempt was stopped at the blue line by Francois Beauchemin, and the defenseman found Kyle Palmieri in the middle of the ice. The forward fired a shot toward the net, and an Emerson Etem screen kept Crawford from tracking the shot and the Ducks tied things up at 1-1.
As soon as the teams skated onto the ice for the third period, the floodgates opened. The Blackhawks landed the first two blows, scoring twice to open up a 3-1 lead. Toews scored the first one as he received a pass from Marian Hossa and lifted a shot over a sprawling Andersen to give Chicago the lead, and then Brent Seabrook racked up the second as he hammered a slap shot just inside the post to give the Hawks the lead.
In a 37-second span, the Ducks not only erased that deficit, but they took the lead. Silfverberg tossed a pass to the front of the net and Ryan Kesler hammered it home to make it a 3-2 game, and then Matt Beleskey stripped Antoine Vermette of the puck near the blue line and ripped a wrist shot over Crawford’s blocker to tie things up. Corey Perry then finished off the furious rally as he slid a soft shot over the goal line and past Crawford’s left skate to give the Ducks a 4-3 game.
The craziness still wasn’t over, as the Blackhawks tied it back up with seven and a half minutes to play. Brad Richards got a puck at the blue line, and he pinched in and hammered a slap pass to the side of the net. Patrick Kane deflected it off of his stick blade, and Andersen did the rest as he pushed the puck across the line to tie it up at 4-4.
The final seven minutes unfolded with decidedly fewer fireworks, but the Blackhawks still had a few more chances to take the lead. The best one came on a Kane stretch pass that sprung a 2-on-1 rush the other way, but Bryan Bickell’s shot rang loudly off the crossbar as the game headed to an overtime session.
In the extra period, the Ducks racked up the first nine shots on goal, but they were unable to score on any of them. The Blackhawks finally responded about nine minutes into the period, but they were unable to score on a power play as Andrew Shaw’s shot off a fat rebound from Duncan Keith went off the crossbar to keep it tied.
Beleskey had a chance denied by Crawford later in the overtime after a steal by Kyle Palmieri off of Brent Seabrook, and then Patrick Sharp had a breakaway following a gorgeous stretch pass by Teuvo Teravainen. Andersen made the save however, and the two teams headed to another overtime session.
After Perry had a couple of chances denied early in the period, the Blackhawks ultimately were able to finish off the game with a flourish. Antoine Vermette made a heroic push near the net to grab a loose puck, and his wrist shot barely curled inside the far post to give the Blackhawks the victory and tie the series up.
The series will resume on Monday night with a critical Game 5 matchup in Anaheim. Puck drop is scheduled for 8 p.m., and the game will air on NBCSN.