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Vermette helps Blackhawks even series with Ducks

by Corey Masisak /

CHICAGO -- The core of this Chicago Blackhawks team has more than 100 Stanley Cup Playoff games together. They've experienced and overcome plenty.

They hadn't survived an epic third-period collapse quite like three goals allowed in 37 seconds before, so add that to the list.

They did Saturday because Antoine Vermette scored at 5:37 of the second overtime to give them a 5-4 win against the Anaheim Ducks in Game 4 of the Western Conference Final at United Center.

"It's a great feeling," said Chicago goaltender Corey Crawford, who made 47 saves. "We battled hard to get the lead tonight then lost it pretty quick. It seems like another team, that would break your backs, but we kept playing."

Vermette had a great look from the middle of the ice after a pass from behind the net by Patrick Sharp. His shot didn't reach the net because of an outstanding play by Ducks center Rickard Rakell, who dove to his right and knocked the shot out of the air.

The puck did not leave the danger area though, and Vermette regained control near the goal line to the right of goaltender Frederik Andersen. Vermette tucked a shot just inside the far post for his second goal of this postseason.

"I think overall on that shift, we talk about our speed, and I think we are effective when we move our feet," Vermette said. "I think that was an illustration of that. We get the puck going in their end a little bit. We stuck with it. ... Lucky enough we got it back and put it in."

Vermette was a healthy scratch in Game 3.

"That's a really tough thing to play through, when you finally are thrown out there, the game is fast, intense, every single play matters, you've got to find a way to play through that and make smart plays," Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews said. "So it's a huge testament to the guy sitting next to me (Vermette) and some other individuals in our locker room that are putting their own ego, their own wants and needs aside, and are ready for those opportunities when they do come."

This was Chicago's second multiple-overtime win in this best-of-7 series, which is tied 2-2. The Blackhawks are 4-0 in the 2015 playoffs in overtime and are the first team in NHL history to win four games that required more than one overtime in one postseason.

Game 5 is at Honda Center on Monday (9 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports).

The Ducks took a 4-3 lead in the third period with the second-fastest three goals in Stanley Cup Playoff history. Their three losses this postseason have been in overtime (Game 3 in the second round against the Calgary Flames, and Games 2 and 4 of this series).

"If you look at all four games [in this series] they've been all tremendous hockey games," Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau said. "One has to lose, one has to win. Usually when one of the teams makes a mistake, a good team capitalizes on it. That's what happened. We had our chances again to win it, but it didn't happen. So we'll just regroup. Now it's a 2-out-of-3. Let's go after it."

Chicago tied it 4-4 on the power play with 7:21 left in the third. Patrick Kane had the puck in the left corner and sent it to the right point for Brad Richards. After skating to his left and getting Anaheim's Nate Thompson to commit to a shot block, Richards went back to Kane, whose soft one-timer trickled through Andersen's legs.

Toews gave the Blackhawks a 2-1 lead 2:38 into the third period. Brandon Saad kicked the puck from the left side of the slot to Toews on the right, and he waited for Andersen to slide across before snapping a shot into the top part of the net for his fifth goal of the postseason.

Toews' line had another dominant shift and scored five minutes later. Saad tried to stuff the puck on a wraparound but he lost it into the slot. Defenseman Brent Seabrook was there for a one-timer through traffic at 7:38 for his fourth goal of these playoffs.

That's when things got a little crazy and the Ducks scored three in a row to take the lead.

Ryan Kesler made it 3-2 at 8:47 with a one-timer in the slot from Jakob Silfverberg.

It was 3-3 at 9:05. Ducks forward Matt Beleskey stripped Vermette of the puck as he was about to skate it out of the Chicago zone and then snapped a wrist shot just inside the left post from the inside edge of the right circle.

Chicago called timeout but could not slow Anaheim. Corey Perry scored while falling down on a rebound to give the Ducks the lead at 9:19.

"I thought it was the worst timeout I ever called," Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said. "They scored right away; I'm going, 'Oh, my God, we don't have a timeout, down a goal, 10 minutes to go in the game.'

"My group finds ways. It was one of those stretches where our guys find ways instead of looking for the out. It's an amazing group. Tonight is a good illustration of it."

The three-goal sequence trails only the Toronto Maple Leafs' three in 23 seconds against the Atlanta Flames during the 1979 preliminary round. Quenneville had an assist on that third Toronto goal.

Saad scored the only goal of a dominant first period, shorthanded, for the Blackhawks. Ducks defenseman Francois Beauchemin stumbled after contact with referee Chris Rooney along the left wall in the Chicago zone, and Saad went by him and the other player near the blue line, center Ryan Kesler, with the puck and in alone on Andersen for his fourth of the postseason.

The Blackhawks finished the period with a 30-12 advantage in shot attempts.

Anaheim tied it 1-1 late in the second period after three minutes of offensive pressure. Toews went to the penalty box for high-sticking at 15:15; the Ducks did not convert the power play, but Emerson Etem scored at 18:14 after Kyle Palmieri's shot deflected off his body.

Marcus Kruger scored late in the third overtime of Game 2 to give the Blackhawks a split at Honda Center with a 3-2 victory. The Ducks responded with a 2-1 win in Game 3 when defenseman Simon Despres scored his first NHL playoff goal late in the second period.

Anaheim will have to show similar resolve after another sudden-death defeat.

"I think we're right there," Cogliano said. "I don't think they overwhelmed us with too much. I thought we had our looks. They had the more power plays and they converted at the end of the game to tie it up. To score three goals when you're down 3-1 speaks to the team, and there is no hanging our heads. Obviously it is a bad feeling, but we've got to battle back."

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