Blackhawks going down, teeth flying, shorthanded goals scored against them.
And still, they won.
If Game 4 isn’t a microcosm of the fight and desire the Chicago Blackhawks have had all season, then no game is.
Trailing the San Jose Sharks 2-0, it would have been easy to pack it in and try again in Game 5. But once again the Hawks called on their best when they needed it most, rallying for four straight goals for a 4-2 victory, a sweep of the Sharks and a trip to the Stanley Cup final.
“I think today was one of those games where everything was kind of going against us,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “We give up a shorthanded goal [and] get hit in the face with the puck. I think we were in a little bit of a disarray for a few minutes.
“Seabs [Brent Seabrook] makes a real nice play on the first goal with good patience, good vision and awareness. And [Dave] Bolland scores a big one at the end of the second period. And all of a sudden it's anyone's game.”
At that point, was it really anyone’s game? Once it was tied, the Hawks were not going to be denied. A magnificent third period ensured that, but it was that first goal -- reviewed and declared good -- that jumpstarted the Hawks and the United Center crowd.
“Sometimes all you need is to see one go in,” Jonathan Toews said. “We had a lot of great opportunities early in the second. Giving up that goal on the power play wasn’t a good one. When you come back and get a break like that, it was great for our energy. It just showed us that if we work hard we’re going to get the results we’re looking for.”
Patrick Sharp gave credit to the seventh man “on the ice.” The goal review only built the crowd up for some “Chelsea Dagger” euphoria when the referees reversed the call.
“We knew we had to keep plugging and get the fans involved,” Sharp said. “Once we scored one it felt like the fans were pushing us and it got louder and louder in there. We really fed off that energy.”
This team feeds off drama as well.
It seems Dustin Byfuglien lives for it. After just 17 goals in the regular season and none in the first eight playoff games, Byfuglien has eight in his last eight games, including three game-winners in the conference finals.
“Seems like he likes the spotlight,” Sharp quipped. “He likes being the hero. He steps up big-time. He told me before the third period he was going to be the guy to go get it. True to his word, he got it.”
No one epitomized the Hawks’ effort in this series more than Duncan Keith. Coming off a career high 34:44 on the ice, Keith missed almost no time when as many as seven of his teeth were knocked out after he blocked a clearing attempt with his face.
Barely able to speak in postgame interviews, he shrugged it off.
“I knew right away my teeth were smashed in,” Keith mumbled. “A bunch of them disintegrated, it felt like. I don’t know.”
He’s not the first to lose some teeth and then return, but given the situation, it called for quick work.
“I had about seven needles in my mouth and my jaw,” Keith explained. “It’s all frozen right now. Probably going to need more of that soon because it’s starting to wear off. I can feel it.”
Despite the setback, he still led the Hawks in ice time with 29:02.
“At this point it doesn't come as any surprise to myself or anybody else in our locker room,” Toews said. “We know what we can do as a team. Last year, we felt we were very close, like I said, but just didn't have enough in us. We were young. Obviously that inexperience did catch up to us a little bit.”
No longer inexperienced, the Hawks played this series like everyone expected out of a possible champion. Now they just have to do it one more time.
--Marian Hossa might be snakebit on the ice right now but he’s the good luck charm for any team that he’s on lately. This will be his third Stanley Cup finals appearance in three years—with three different teams.
“People say the third time is the lucky charm,” Hossa said. “I truly believe it.”
--It took him nearly the whole game but Toews extended his playoff point streak to 13 in a row with an assist on the winning goal.
--This will be Quenneville’s first trip to the Stanley Cup finals as a head coach. He won a Cup as an assistant with Colorado in 1996.
--The Hawks will take Monday off before gathering on Tuesday to start preparations for their biggest series yet.