Every eventual champion has one: A signature playoff win. It can come at any time in the postseason, sometimes when you least expect it.
In 2010, the Chicago Blackhawks were on the verge of falling behind 3-2 in their best-of-seven first round series to the Nashville Predators -- with a road game looming. But a miraculous short-handed goal by Patrick Kane sent the game to overtime, and Marian Hossa eventually won it after coming out of the penalty box. A memory not soon forgotten.
The Hawks may have just put their signature on the 2013 postseason with their dramatic 3-2 victory over the Los Angeles Kings in Game 4 on Thursday night, to put them up 3-1 in the series. The odds were against them and still they came through.
Consider, no Duncan Keith due to suspension and consider getting down, not once but twice, before rallying for the win. It came against a team undefeated in the postseason at home and 8-2 when scoring first. The Kings were also a sparkling 21-3-2 in the regular season when netting the first goal. The Hawks bucked all those trends and got their signature win.
"It was huge, especially the way they're playing at home," goal scorer Patrick Kane told reporters. "I think they won 15 in a row here at the Staples Center. It was nice to come in and steal one for sure."
So many stepped up their game it's hard to point to any one person who made the difference. Credit the entire defense for coming through as all six had different roles -- and playing time -- without Keith in the lineup.
"I thought we got contributions across the board, especially the guys that logged a lot of minutes down there, did a real good job of having a good gap, getting some clears, strong in front of the net," coach Joel Quenneville said. "The defense in front of (Corey Crawford) combined to do an outstanding job. Tough team to shut down in the third."
The third-period defense on the Kings was the signature within the signature. Anyone watching -- after the Hawks took the lead -- should have been bracing for an attack by Los Angeles worthy of a Hollywood action movie. But it never came. Desperate to tie the series, the Kings were smothered by the Hawks to the tune of two shots in the final 20 minutes of what could have been their home finale.
"I think once they scored the quick goal after the penalty kill,10 seconds after, I think we had to go for it a little bit, we were stretched out," Kings coach Darryl Sutter said. "That doesn't work that well against them. So I think they did a good job of plugging it off, defending the lead."
Those are the details within the signature win but the bigger picture is the Hawks' ability to react to adversity. They had hit in 2010, flashed it some in 2011, lost it completely in 2012 but have it back now. Juxtaposed against the other top seed, the Pittsburgh Penguins and their 3-0 series deficit, the Hawks look like as resilient a team as you'll find.
"It was big by us," Brent Seabrook said. "I thought everybody stepped up and played really well. We weren't happy with our Game 3. I thought we came out right from the first couple shifts, we were moving our feet, playing with speed, we were getting in on the forecheck and making good plays. It was big for our group to come back with a good effort tonight."
Considering the situation they arguably got the best effort yet in the playoffs -- and that includes three elimination games against Detroit last round -- and now the Hawks stand on the verge of a return to the Stanley Cup finals.
A signature win indeed.