CHICAGO — Antoine Vermette scored at 5:37 of the second overtime, and the Chicago Blackhawks beat the Anaheim Ducks 5-4 on Saturday night to tie the Western Conference finals at two games apiece.
Vermette, left out of the lineup for Chicago’s 2-1 loss in Game 3 on Thursday night, was stopped on his first try in front, but stayed with the rebound and shot it over Frederik Andersen for his second goal of playoffs. He then skated over to the corner and was mobbed by his teammates as the season-high crowd of 22,404 cheered wildly.
Game 5 is Monday night in Anaheim.
Brandon Saad had a goal and two assists for Chicago, which has won all four of its overtime playoff games this year. Captain Jonathan Toews had a goal and an assist, Patrick Kane scored for the second straight game, and Corey Crawford finished with 47 saves — helping the Blackhawks stay alive when the Ducks had a big push in the first extra session.
Ryan Kesler, Corey Perry and Matt Beleskey scored in a 37-second stretch in the third for Anaheim, and Andersen had 35 saves. Emerson Etem also scored.
Anaheim outshot Chicago 17-5 in the first overtime, forcing Crawford to make several clutch stops. The Blackhawks also had a prime opportunity when Andrew Shaw shot it off the crossbar on a power play, and Patrick Sharp was stopped by Andersen on a breakaway.
Etem’s third goal of the playoffs tied it at 1 late in the second, setting the stage for a wild finish to regulation.
Toews’ wrist shot over a prone Andersen got the lead back for Chicago at 2:38, and Brent Seabrook made it 3-1 on a big slap shot 5 minutes later. It was the first goal of the conference finals for Toews, who has been wrestling with Kesler all over the ice for most of the series.
The Ducks responded with a frenzied rally, silencing the big crowd. First, Kesler beat Crawford for his fifth goal of the playoffs at 8:42, and then Beleskey used Blackhawks defenceman Kimmo Timonen as a screen for perfectly placed wrister that tied it at 3. Perry capped the dazzling stretch with a rebound score for Anaheim’s first lead at 9:19.
The three goals in 37 seconds were the second-fastest three playoff goals scored by one team in NHL history, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Toronto scored three times in 23 seconds against the Atlanta Flames on April 12, 1979, with Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville assisting on the final goal in that stretch for the Maple Leafs.
And there was still one more goal to go in the third.
The only penalty of the period was a holding whistle on Ducks winger Jakob Silfverberg, and Chicago turned it into Kane’s tying score at 12:39. Kane slide Richards’ pass underneath Andersen, and the goaltender’s momentum helped carry the puck just past the goal line.
Anaheim controlled most of the final frantic minutes, but Crawford stood tall to help send it to overtime. Chicago winger Bryan Bickell also had a shot go off the crossbar with 2:58 remaining.
Still smarting from their first home loss of the playoffs, the Blackhawks opened with their best period of the series. They kept the puck in Anaheim’s zone for much of the early part of game, but the Ducks blocked 12 shots in the first 20 minutes.
There was no score in the final minute when the Blackhawks made the most of a huge break.
With Chicago defenceman Brent Seabrook in the box for slashing, Saad got the puck along the boards in his defensive zone. Ducks defenceman Francois Beauchemin then got tangled up with referee Chris Rooney, sending both of them to the ice, and Saad took off for a breakaway.
Kesler made one last try to break up the rush, but Saad deftly knocked his stick away before beating Andersen into the upper right corner with 47 seconds left. It was Saad’s first goal since Game 1 of the second round against Minnesota.
The Ducks started to pick up their play midway through the second. Beleskey had a great power-play look at 15:43, but Crawford was there for the stop.
Anaheim then tied it at 1 when Kyle Palmieri’s open shot from the slot went off Etem’s right side and into the goal with 1:46 left in the second. It was Etem’s first point of the series.
NOTES: Blackhawks F Teuvo Teravainen also returned to the lineup after he was scratched for Game 3. Kris Versteeg and Joakim Nordstrom returned to the inactive list. … Beauchemin got his 27th career playoff assist on Etem’s goal, passing Scott Niedermayer for the top spot on the franchise list for defencemen. … Former major league slugger Paul Konerko, who had his No. 14 retired by the White Sox earlier in the day, and new Bears coach John Fox attended the game. Konerko got a standing ovation when he was shown on the videoboard in the first period, and Fox also got a warm ovation. … The Ducks have outscored their opponents 21-6 in the third period in the playoffs.
Jay Cohen can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/jcohenap
Jay Cohen, The Associated Press