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One Minute Remaining: Difference Makers

by Harvey Wittenberg / Chicago Blackhawks
(Getty Images)

While players from 26 other NHL teams look on with envy at the final four while swinging golf sticks instead of hockey sticks, the tense playoff battles continue. Every hockey coach knows their best players have to be at their best in order to win. In the playoffs, goalies have to raise their level even higher because the stakes mean a lot more. But the true key to success in the postseason could rest with the players who toil on the third and fourth lines and aren't always counted on for scoring.

With the Blackhawks, that role currently falls on the shoulders of Antoine Vermette, Patrick Sharp and rookie Teuvo Teravainen, along with Marcus Kruger, Andrew Desjardins and the feisty Andrew Shaw. Their task is to make sure they keep their opponents off the scoresheet, plus typically seeing a lot of penalty kill time. Let's hope these two lines keep showing they can make the difference in these playoffs.

The Blackhawks' record for longest playoff game is now 116 minutes, capped off by Kruger's overtime winner in Game 2 in Anaheim. That game, along with Vermette' double-overtime decider in Game 4, recalls past successful extra playoff sessions.

In this year's First Round against Nashville, Duncan Keith had a double-overtime winner in the come-from-behind opener, and Brent Seabrook tallied in the first minute of the third overtime in Game 4. Andrew Shaw had a triple-overtime winner at the UC in the opener of the Stanley Cup Final against Boston on the way to the Cup in 2013.

The first Chicago Stanley Cup was won in the second extra period on April 10, 1934, when Harold "Mush" March scored for a 1-0 victory behind the goaltending of Charlie Gardiner, who tragically died two months later from a brain tumor. Before this year's Chicago overtime playoff marks, the old record was set back in 1931 in Montreal, when Cy Wentworth lit the red light nearly 54 minutes into the third overtime period.

Finally, few can forget Patrick Kane's winner four minutes into overtime in Philadelphia on June 9, 2010, for Chicago's first Stanley Cup in 49 years!

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