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Dodging Ducks' combo, Blackhawks fought back

Shawn Roarke - Director, Editorial

CHICAGO -- As the Western Conference Final evolves into a heavyweight brawl featuring two behemoths with completely different styles, the Chicago Blackhawks are showing they have the granite chin necessary to absorb the haymakers of their hungry opponent.

The Blackhawks were on the mat again Saturday in Game 4, trailing by a goal in the third period, their bleary eyes focused squarely on the potential of a win-or-go-home scenario if the Anaheim Ducks could get through the final 10:41 of regulation with a lead crafted on 37-second fusillade of punches filled with malicious intent.

Instead, Patrick Kane responded with a stinging jab less than four minutes later to tie it. In the second overtime, Antoine Vermette, scratched in Game 3, countered Anaheim's brutality with a roundhouse of his own, holding onto the puck in the slot long enough until goalie Frederik Andersen committed and was not in position to snag his wrist shot.

The goal gave Chicago an improbable 5-4 victory and had the crowd cheering for the home team's toughness and resiliency. It also evened the best-of-7 series 2-2.

"My group finds ways," coach Joel Quenneville said with a tinge of amazement creeping into his tired voice. "It was one of those stretches where our guys find ways instead of looking for the out. It's an amazing group. Tonight is a good illustration of it."

Stanley Cup Playoffs notebook: Saturday, May 23

Sunday, 05.24.2015 / 2:16 AM / 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs

NHL Public Relations


After the teams scored three goals each in the third period, Antoine Vermette scored at 5:37 of double-overtime to even Chicago's Western Conference Final series with Anaheim at two games apiece.

* The Blackhawks improved to 4-0 in overtime games during the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs, all of which have required at least two overtime periods. In addition to Game 4, the others included April 15 at Nashville (4-3 2OT W in Game 1 of first round), April 21 vs. Nashville (3-2 3OT W in Game 4 of first round) and May 19 at Anaheim (3-2 3OT W in Game 2 of WCF).

* According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Blackhawks became the first team in NHL history to win four games in a single postseason that required at least two overtime periods.

* Vermette recorded his second career game-winning goal in the playoffs (also April 25, 2006 at Tampa Bay w/ Ottawa) and first in overtime. He has 11-10—21 in 69 postseason games, including 2-1—3 this year (11 GP).

After scratch, Vermette happy to help Blackhawks

Brian Hedger - Correspondent

CHICAGO -- Antoine Vermette hadn't had much fun with the Chicago Blackhawks until the second overtime of Game 4 of the Western Conference Final at United Center on Saturday.

After being a healthy scratch Thursday in a Game 3 loss to the Anaheim Ducks, Vermette scored the game-winning goal 5:37 into double overtime for a 5-4 win that evened the best-of-7 series at 2-2.

Game 5 is at Honda Center on Monday (9 p.m.; NBCSN; CBC; TVA Sports).

Left wing Patrick Sharp sent a pass from behind the Ducks net to Vermette, whose shot from the slot was blocked by Ducks forward Rickard Rakell. Vermette pounced on the loose puck and sent it into the net past goalie Frederik Andersen.

Vermette slid to the corner, pumped his fists and celebrated his second goal of the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs, also his second since coming to Chicago prior to the NHL Trade Deadline. He didn't score in 19 regular-season games with the Blackhawks after leaving the Arizona Coyotes.

"I think overall on that shift, we talk about our speed, and I think we are effective when we move our feet," Vermette said. "I think that was an illustration of that. We get the puck going in their end a little bit. We stuck with it. ... Lucky enough we got it back and put it in."

Babcock will attract free agents to Toronto: Franson

Saturday, 05.23.2015 / 9:15 PM / News

Defenseman Cody Franson, who played almost four seasons for the Toronto Maple Leafs before being traded in March, said Saturday that free agents, like himself, will find the team more attractive now that it's coached by Mike Babcock.

"I definitely think it makes [Toronto] more interesting," Franson told TSN 1050 Radio. "... Definitely, with Mr. Babcock going there, it's an exciting time for people in that organization and I think it makes it more intriguing to free agents for sure."

Franson will be a free agent July 1 after finishing the season with the Nashville Predators. He said he would like the chance to return to Toronto.

"One hundred percent; I've always said that I loved it in Toronto," the 27-year-old said. "... I'm hopeful that Toronto's in the mix come July 1 and my phone will definitely be on and hoping that they're one of the teams that calls."

Rangers power play finds its rhythm against Lightning

Saturday, 05.23.2015 / 12:59 PM / Rangers vs Lightning - 2015 Eastern Conference Final

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

TAMPA -- Keith Yandle said the New York Rangers are scoring goals on the power play because they're keeping it simple. Dan Boyle said the only difference is the puck is going into the net now, when earlier in the Stanley Cup Playoffs it wasn't.

With all due respect, the Rangers defensemen are being too vague and far too humble in describing a power play that has needed five shots to score four goals in the past two games and has connected twice in each of the past three games in the Eastern Conference Final against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The Rangers were 6-for-38 on the power play in the first two rounds; they're 6-for-15 against the Lightning, including 2-for-4 in a 5-1 win in Game 4 on Friday at Amalie Arena, and 6-for-13 in the past three games.

The best-of-7 series is tied at 2-2 with Game 5 at Madison Square Garden on Sunday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports).

"We're making plays," said right wing Martin St. Louis, who broke out of his 18-game scoring drought with a power-play goal in Game 4. "Special teams are always big at this time of the year and it's nice to get our power play rolling."

Farrish: Rangers' stars shine bright in Game 4

Saturday, 05.23.2015 / 10:17 AM / Rangers vs Lightning - 2015 Eastern Conference Final

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

For additional insight into the New York Rangers and Tampa Bay Lightning during the Eastern Conference Final series, has enlisted the help of Dave Farrish to break down the action. Farrish will be checking in throughout the series.

Farrish was an assistant coach for the Anaheim Ducks and Toronto Maple Leafs from 2005-14. He won the Stanley Cup with the Ducks in 2007. He also coached 1,027 games in the minor leagues, including the American Hockey League. In addition, Farrish, a former defenseman, played 430 games over seven seasons in the NHL.

It wasn't just how the New York Rangers won Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Final on Friday, it was who contributed in their 5-1 victory against the Tampa Bay Lightning that has Dave Farrish thinking momentum in the series has potentially taken a significant turn.

The Rangers' big guns, their best player and two of their top scorers, were the stars.

Henrik Lundqvist made 38 saves in a vintage performance. Rick Nash played strong, owned the middle of the ice and scored two goals, doubling his production in the Stanley Cup Playoffs in one night. Martin St. Louis scored his first goal of the postseason with a one-timer on the power play that gave New York a 4-1 lead in the third period.

"The players we were talking about finally broke out," Farrish said. "I think it could make a huge difference."

Stanley Cup Playoffs notebook: Friday, May 22

Saturday, 05.23.2015 / 12:55 AM / 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs

NHL Public Relations


Rick Nash (2-1—3) had his first career three-point performance in the postseason to help the New York Rangers even their series against the Tampa Bay Lightning at 2-2.

* Nash opened the scoring with an even-strength goal and added another goal on the power play for his first two goals of the Eastern Conference Final. It was also Nash’s first career multiple-goal game in the playoffs.

* Nash led the Rangers in the 2014-15 regular season with a career-high 42 goals in 79 GP. He also led the club with 69 points (42-27—69).

Lundqvist, Nash, St. Louis lead Rangers in Game 4

Saturday, 05.23.2015 / 12:53 AM / Rangers vs Lightning - 2015 Eastern Conference Final

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

TAMPA -- For two games, the Tampa Bay Lightning had the New York Rangers manically spinning their heads, gasping for their breath and searching for answers to questions they had never faced before.

It happened in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Final. It happened again in Game 3. The Rangers were simply unable to stop the Lightning's top players from being their best players. It was somewhat shocking coming from a team as structured, sound, smart and skilled as the Rangers, who thrived all season on shoving their speed game right down the throats of the opposition.

So they entered Game 4 on Friday at Amalie Arena with a crystal clear understanding that without a big response from the best they've got they would be in a hole too deep to dig out from. What happened next changed the storyline in this unpredictable series that is now a best of three.

Lightning lament 'unlucky breaks' in Game 4 loss

Saturday, 05.23.2015 / 12:50 AM / Rangers vs Lightning - 2015 Eastern Conference Final

Corey Long - Correspondent

TAMPA -- Whether it was untimely defensive breakdowns or an unlikely bounce off of the leg of a teammate, Tampa Bay Lightning goalie Ben Bishop will need to put a 5-1 loss to the New York Rangers in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Final behind him quickly.

The best-of-7 series is now tied 2-2 with Game 5 at Madison Square Garden on Sunday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports).

Bishop gave up five goals for the second consecutive game, but this time the Lightning offense couldn't bail him out. The Rangers scored two power-play goals during a four-goal barrage in a 16-minute span and are 6-for-15 in the series.

"You look at the last couple of games and the penalty kill has to be better, and that starts with me," Bishop said. "Six [power-play] goals in three games is just unacceptable. You look at some of the other goals and there's a couple things you might do different and a couple of unlucky breaks."

Rangers' St. Louis gets first goal, some confidence

Saturday, 05.23.2015 / 12:21 AM / Rangers vs Lightning - 2015 Eastern Conference Final

Brian Compton - Deputy Managing Editor

TAMPA -- When New York Rangers forward Martin St. Louis scored his first goal of the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs on Friday, he couldn't hide his emotions.

It took him 16 games, but St. Louis one-timed Derick Brassard's feed past Tampa Bay Lightning goalie Ben Bishop for a power-play goal 5:08 into the third period of the Rangers' 5-1 victory in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Final at Amalie Arena.

Nearly seven weeks had passed since St. Louis scored a goal. His attitude and approach remained positive throughout, but he admitted after the win that the process was difficult to endure.

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[Stamkos] is a great teammate and a great leader, that's why he's got the 'C'. He brings that tremendous work ethic to the rink and he's one of the top players in the game. I know if I put the passes where they are supposed to be, there's a very good chance he's going to put it in the back of the net.

— Lightning forward Jonathan Drouin
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