Tune in at 7 p.m. and catch Game 4 of the 2015 Western Conference Final on NBC Sports Chicago
It had been a difficult few months for Antoine Vermette. Acquired at the 2015 trade deadline by the Blackhawks, the 11-year veteran felt the pressure of not being able to contribute to his new team.
"I had experienced a trade before in season, but that one was definitely a different situation," he said recently looking back on his brief stint in Chicago. "I knew coming in before the trade (deadline) I was going to go to a team, it was well-known ... It was dragging and weighed on me for a little bit."
"It was an adjustment," Vermette continued. "I couldn't find my game as quick as I wished, but I knew playoffs, this is my chance (to make a difference)."
In 19 regular season games to finish the year, the forward had just three assists to his name. And in the opening 10 games of the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs, just a goal and an assist.
Video: 2015 Rewind: Antoine Vermette
Down 2-1 in the Western Conference Final series to the Anaheim Ducks -- a team Vermette would join a year later -- Chicago needed to even the series at home in Game 4, or risk needing to sweep the final three games as the series went back to California.
A 1-1 affair as the second period ended, all appearances were that the next goal could be the difference, a 2-1 finish as it was in Game 3. It was far from it.
Chicago struck first with Jonathan Toews and Brent Seabrook finding twine in the third's opening minutes. Momentum took a hard 180 as Anaheim then answered three times in 37 seconds -- yes, you read that right. Patrick Kane tied things up a few minutes later on the power play and both sides caught their breath as series went to overtime for the second time.
"It was one of those moments, the timing was everything," Vermette recalled as his line of Patrick Sharp and Teuvo Teravainen took the ice in the second overtime.
"We played and cycled the puck a little bit and 'Sharpy' made a great pass, I was coming back high slot, the puck found me. Originally I tried to shoot it, I think one of their defensemen blocked it and I stayed with it, the puck was a little scrambly in front of the net. I ended up getting the puck back with a sharp angle on the side and I banked it in. That was a pretty intense moment, especially scoring that goal in Chicago. That was one of the best memories I could have."
The goal not only propelled the Blackhawks back into a tie series, it was the spark Vermette's game needed, picking up assists in the next two games and then a pair of game-winning goals in a low-scoring Stanley Cup Final meeting with the Tampa Bay Lightning.
"I was really looking forward to the playoffs to establish my game and have a more impactful position on the team," he said. "This goal kind of led into more confidence and we (as a line) contributed to the team success. It was very helpful ... Definitely came at the right time."