Your team is in danger of falling behind three games to one in a Stanley Cup playoff series. Do you go to the booze? Take to the fetal position and cry softly? Punch your television/computer? If you’re a Chicago Blackhawks fan, you watch your team post a miraculous come-from-behind win.
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Such was the case in a crucial 2009 game against the Vancouver Canucks. Though you have to remember, these weren’t the Blackhawks who had been established as the never say die guys. We were still getting used to the return of success to Chicago. You could be forgiven for being angry as the minutes and seconds ticked off the clock in this one.
But as the saying goes, it’s better late than never. In this case, which is the next game we’ll discuss on our list of most memorable Blackhawks playoff wins under Joel Quenneville, that refers to scoring goals.
Note: Check out the previous entries in this series at the end of this post.
No. 27: 2009 Western Conference semifinal, Game 4
Chicago Blackhawks 2, Vancouver Canucks 1 (OT)
This was the year in which the Blackhawks were the up-and-comers who everyone expected to falter at some point. The Calgary Flames weren’t able to bring about the Blackhawks’ demise, but Vancouver was ahead two games to one in this series ahead of Game 4 in the United Center.
This post will be kind of short considering the highlight video for the game isn’t of great length and I admittedly don’t have the easiest time remembering details from every Blackhawks game in 2009. But here goes nothing.
The Blackhawks were on the powerplay early in the opening period thanks to a Kevin Bieksa interference penalty. Jonathan Toews wound up with the puck down low and couldn’t find anyone to pass it off to, so he took it right in on Roberto Luongo but was turned aside. That pretty much did it for first-period highlights.
Da Windy City
Toews had the next great Chicago chance, at about the same point in the second period. He carried the puck into the offensive zone and worked his way around a Vancouver defenseman for a shot on Luongo, after which the goaltender gave up a rebound. Troy Brouwer was just ahead of his own Canucks defenseman heading for the net and managed to get off a shot of his own, but Luongo jammed the pad out to block off that bid.
Ironically, Toews looked to have another great chance in front of Luongo a short time later, but this one would result in trouble for the Blackhawks. Patrick Kane had the puck in the corner to Luongo’s left and hit Toews in the slot. The captain’s shot attempt was blocked, and the puck rolled up ice to Rick Rypien on a semi-breakaway. Rypien saw Chicago defenseman Matt Walker coming to take the body and spun around to feed Darcy Hordichuk, who had gotten clear of all other Blackhawks. Hordichuk took the pass perfectly and sniped it past Nikolai Khabibulin to put Vancouver up 1-0 midway through the second. Notably, Hordichuk (7:34) and Rypien (6:53) were the only Canucks under 10 minutes in ice time.
The Blackhawks appeared as though they’d respond right away after matching minors against Andrew Ladd and Willie Mitchell. Kris Versteeg carried the puck through the neutral zone and hit Patrick Sharp‘s stick with a pass as the latter was entering the offensive zone. The puck fluttered into the air toward Luongo, and Sharp didn’t quit on the play. He broke through the Vancouver defense and managed an in-tight shot on Bobby Lu once the puck had landed on the ice again. Lu again stuck out his pad to make a huge stop.
Khabibulin needed to make a stop far from his crease midway through the third after misplaying the puck to keep the Blackhawks within one. But what he really needed was his teammates to score at least once before 60 minutes had been played. They found a way to do just that.
The line of Marty Havlat, Dave Bolland and Ladd was engaged in some board battling with the Canucks in Chicago’s offensive zone. Ladd would finally win the puck and tip it out to Havlat, who was looping back toward Luongo at the circles. With several Vancouver players preoccupied with Ladd, Havlat accepted the puck and wristed a shot past Luongo with less than three minutes to go in the third, finally tying the game at one.
Bolland would have a breakaway chance with less than 30 seconds to go, but Alex Edler made sure Bolland didn’t get much of a shot off on Luongo, more or less securing an overtime period.
The Blackhawks wouldn’t need long to cash in this time. After Khabibulin needed to make a few good stops in the first couple minutes of the extra frame, the Havlat-Bolland-Ladd line was attacking once more, with Duncan Keith also pinching in to get involved. Eventually, Bolland picked up the puck along the boards above the circle to Luongo’s left, spun around and threw a shot on net. It wound up hitting Ladd’s stick and skittering past Luongo to send the United Center crowd into a frenzy.
With the win, the Blackhawks had knotted the series at two games apiece heading back to Vancouver. They wouldn’t lose again to the Canucks in these playoffs. Khabibulin faced just 15 shots on net (compared to 28 for Luongo), but he needed to stand tall at times and certainly did so. Meanwhile, the Chicago offense did just enough to earn the victory.
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