Center Antoine Vermette was acquired by the Chicago Blackhawks prior to the 2015 NHL Trade Deadline to bolster an offense that was missing Patrick Kane because of a broken collarbone. After scoring 13 goals and 35 points in 62 games with the Arizona Coyotes, Vermette had three assists in 19 regular-season games for the Blackhawks and was a healthy scratch for the first two games of the Western Conference First Round series against the Nashville Predators.
Given a shot at redemption after coach Joel Quenneville called his number for Game 3, Vermette played 13:35 in 17 shifts of Chicago's 4-2 win. But in Game 4, Vermette made the most of his second chance with a big goal in a game the Blackhawks would eventually win 3-2 in the third overtime.
Trailing 1-0 midway through the first period, Vermette and the Blackhawks went to work and tied the score 1:27 after Predators forward Colin Wilson opened the scoring. Vermette skated to the middle of the ice and redirected a pass from defenseman Michal Rozsival past Predators goalie Pekka Rinne at 13:05 for his first goal in a Blackhawks uniform.
In addition to his goal, Vermette played to his strength in the faceoff circle, winning 60 percent of his faceoffs (12 of 20) after going 4-for-9 in Game 3.
"It becomes that much sweeter when you win," Vermette told the Chicago Tribune. "You knew at some point it would come."
Chicago leads the best-of-7 series 3-1 and will have a chance to close it out Thursday in Game 5 at Bridgestone Arena (9:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN360, TVA Sports 3, CSN-CH, FS-TN). Vermette not only gave the Blackhawks more breathing room, he likely bought himself more time as a regular player.
"Your attitude is one thing you can control -- think positive, having good energy around the guys," Vermette said. "I think that's the way to do it."