When Chicago Blackhawks center Antoine Vermette scored the game-winning double-overtime goal to even the Western Conference Final at two games apiece, it was a large dose of vindication for No. 80. His transition from a focal point in the Arizona Coyotes’ offense to a multi-time playoff scratch in Chicago wasn’t easy.
“The emotion [of being scratched], it’s not a pleasant one,” Vermette told NHL.com. “As a proud competitor, like anybody else on this team, you want to be part of the team. You think you can help the team. I think that’s a natural emotion to get. At the same time, [I’m] very supportive of the group. [Hopefully] we get a couple more wins here.”
Instead of sulking, Vermette waited for another opportunity after being scratched in Game 3. He didn’t have to wait too long as he was inserted right back into the Blackhawks’ lineup following a loss.
More than five minutes into the second overtime period, Vermette took a pass from Patrick Sharp and shot the puck into Anaheim Ducks forward Rickard Rakell. Vermette collected his own rebound and shot the puck again, this time unblocked, past goaltender Frederik Andersen and into the net for the victory.
“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.”
Game 5 is scheduled for Monday night in Anaheim.