Tune in at 7 p.m. and catch Game 1 of the 2015 Stanley Final on NBC Sports Chicago
The Blackhawks were battle tested by the time they met the young, fast and skilled Tampa Bay Lightning in the 2015 Stanley Cup Final.
Following a series against Anaheim where they were, at times, out played and playing from behind, adversity was just the name of the game. Against the Lightning, many of whom were experiencing the Final for the very first time, that experience -- not only of the year's run, but with many in the group playing their second or third Cup Final in a matter of years -- would prove to be the difference for Chicago.
"I think that experience factor comes in at some point," veteran Antoine Vermette said of the series. "As a player you want to go into the playoffs and win 16 straight and that's it, champion. It never happens. I like to see a team where they face adversity and they get challenged. To get to this point, you have to go and fight through things, individually and collectively."
Adversity came in early for the Blackhawks. Tampa found the early lead in Game 1 within the opening five minutes and would hold the 1-0 scoreline for the majority of the game.
"If you look back at the Anaheim series, we were trailing within games, trailing within the series," Vermette continued. "Against Tampa, they scored early in the Stanley Cup Final and we're not panicking. Early in the game, they played better than us. But what I remember is -- we all know it's not a sprint, it's a marathon."
Within two minutes late in the final frame, Teuvo Teravainen scored to tie things up and then Vermette put home the game-winner with 4:34 on the clock -- his first of two winners in the series. In mere seconds, the game took a 180 and the veterans came away victorious.
"We stuck with that, we didn't panic and it was 1-0 for a long time in the game for them," Vermette said. "We played the game, we played our style and eventually we scored two quick goals and made a difference."
What fans didn't know at the time was the opening game comeback heroics would be a precursor to the five games that followed -- the Lightning taking the next two affairs before Chicago rattled off three straight en route to the Cup. The experience never panicked.