On every team's journey to a Stanley Cup they're going to have their championship mettle tested. For a battle-tested Blackhawks group that has their eyes set on a third Stanley Cup since 2010, that moment may have come in a span of 37 seconds in Game 4 against the Anaheim Ducks Saturday evening.
After a Brent Seabrook goal put the Blackhawks up 3-1 in the third period and sent the United Center crowd into a frenzy, the Ducks flexed their muscles by scoring three times in 37 seconds to give the visitors a brief lead.
Just 64 seconds after Seabrook's tally, Ryan Kesler cut the lead in half for the visitors with a one-timer off a pass from Jakob Silfverberg. Only 23 seconds later, Matt Beleskey evened the game with a strip of Antoine Vermette and a shot that sailed past Corey Crawford. Sensing his team needed to regroup, Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville used a timeout, which he later proclaimed was the worst timeout he's ever called. The slight break in the action didn't stop Anaheim's onslaught as Corey Perry notched his ninth goal of the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs just 14 seconds later to give the Ducks their only lead of the evening.
The three goals in 37 seconds by the Ducks set a franchise record and is the second-fastest in NHL history behind the 1978-79 Toronto Maple Leafs who scored three goals in 23 seconds against the Atlanta Flames with none other than Quenneville assisting on one of the goals.
The shock and disbelief was felt by the 22,404 fans in attendance at the United Center, but it wasn't something the Blackhawks were going to let faze them.
"When it rains it pours in some moments, especially for us today in that third," Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews said. "A lot of teams wouldn’t feel too good about themselves but we did a good job of staying calm, knowing it is what it is. You can’t change that. You have to get yourself back in the game.
"It’s moments like that when things don’t go your way, they swing the other way for a minute it’s looking pretty good. We had the character and the poise to calm ourselves down, make a game of it and get ourselves back into it."
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In desperate need of an equalizer, it was a man who is no stranger to postseason heroics that rose to the occasion with a streak-breaking power play goal.
After being held in check by the Ducks for 10 straight power plays, Patrick Kane snuck one past Ducks goaltender Frederik Andersen for his team-leading ninth goal of the postseason to help send the game into overtime.
"We've been in these situations before," Kane said. "Everyone is accustomed and used to playing in these types of games, whether it's going to overtime or tight games. It seems like we've been in this situation a lot. We just try to stay calm and try to do whatever we can to get the next one."
To survive in the postseason you need contributions from each man on the roster, and the depth that the Blackhawks bring to the table was at the forefront in Game 4.
With a roster full of All-Stars, Olympic gold medalists and Stanley Cup champions, the hero from the Blackhawks' 5-4 double overtime victory on Saturday evening would be a player who was watching Game 3 on television.
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Back in the lineup after being a healthy scratch in Game 3, Vermette provided his biggest moment in a Hawks sweater since being acquired in a trade deadline deal back in March.
Not letting his brief one-game hiatus from the lineup and earlier turnover that led to an Anaheim goal bother him, Vermette came through in the clutch with his second goal of the postseason to even the Western Conference Final at 2-2.
After being questioned ad nauseam for sitting Vermette in Game 3, Quenneville was finally able to let out a sigh of relief when talking about his veteran center following Game 4.
"I was very happy for him," Quenneville said. "What a huge goal for him and for us. What makes our game so great is that players are so competitive, they want to play in the worst way and want more ice time as well. You can understand where he was at, very disappointed. But he’s a great pro, stayed with it, and that line had a couple of looks in overtime.
"I’m glad he finished it because that was a huge, huge goal. Huge."
Down 3-1 vs. tied 2-2 in the Western Conference Final? Huge may be an understatement. Even for this resilient bunch.