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25 IN 25: Vermette's Double-OT Winner

On May 23, 2015, an unlikely hero rose to the occasion to take Game 4 of the Western Conference finals in double overtime and even the series, 2-2

by Chris Kuc @ChrisKuc /

To celebrate 25 years of Blackhawks hockey at the United Center, looks back on the top 25 moments with '25 in 25'

The Blackhawks had many heroes during their march to the 2015 Stanley Cup, but none was more unlikely than late-season addition Antoine Vermette.

The veteran center was acquired by the Blackhawks from the Coyotes just prior to the trade deadline as General Manager Stan Bowman used space under the NHL's salary cap created when Patrick Kane was placed on the long-term injured list with a broken collarbone. Bowman sent a first-round draft pick and highly-regarded defensive prospect Klas Dahlbeck to the Coyotes in exchange for Vermette.

"We were looking for a veteran to come in and he was a versatile player - he played some wing and mostly center," Bowman said. "He was strong on faceoffs. We had a group that had played together one way for a long time so he came in as a new guy and it took him a little time to get his feet under him. He was the perfect addition as the final piece that we needed. We had a great team but we were missing one guy like that and he had the right ingredients to help us ultimately get to the top."

It certainly didn't look that way at the outset as the 32-year-old Vermette struggled offensively for the Blackhawks and failed to score a goal in 19 regular-season games with the team.

By the time the Blackhawks reached Game 4 of the Western Conference finals at the United Center, they trailed the Ducks 2-1 in the best-of-seven series and Vermette was coming off being a healthy scratch in Game 3.

When Game 4 reached double overtime, exhausted players - and the crowd of 22,404 - were searching for a hero.

Up stepped Vermette, who pounced on a loose puck after his initial shot from the slot was blocked and fired it past Ducks goaltender Frederik Andersen to even the series.

Video: 25 in 25: Vermette's 2OT winner

"We tried a few attempts on that shift," Vermette said after the game. "We stuck with it. Lucky enough, we got it back and put it in."

That set off a raucous celebration on and off the ice as teammates mobbed the popular Vermette.

"The emotion in the corner, it was pretty fun," Vermette said. "This is a fun group. We had a good celebration."

The moment was a vindication to Bowman that he had pushed the right button in acquiring Vermette.

"He was one of those players that was very popular and it was nice to see him rewarded for coming over and being kind of the final piece," Bowman said. "To see him contribute in a big moment like that was important."

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