It was looking like an all-too familiar scene at the end of the second period.
The Chicago Blackhawks had a lead, this time the rare 2-0 advantage. The St. Louis Blues took away that lead, again in quick fashion. It was a time when the Blackhawks had to ask themselves if they were going to fall in a heartbreaking way again or do something about it?
They chose the latter.
Bryan Bickell scored late in regulation to tie it and Patrick Kane scored twice, including the overtime game-winner, as the Blackhawks beat the Blues 4-3 at the United Center on Wednesday night. The Blackhawks evened the first-round series at 2-2, with Game 5 scheduled for Friday in St. Louis.
[WATCH: Kane snipes game-winner by Miller to tie series]
It’s no longer surprising when these two teams have dramatic endings. It’s just part of the series DNA now. And for a while, it looked like the Blackhawks were going to suffer another traumatic loss to the Blues. In the final 1:09 of the second period, Vladimir Tarasenko scored a power-play goal and Max Lapierre knocked a shot off the pipe, off Corey Crawford’s back and in to tie it 2-2.
“We certainly weren’t happy,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “We’re going along fine and perfectly. We took to many penalties in the second period but we have a 2-0 lead late in the period. That one at the end of the period reminded me of the one late in Game 2. (I thought), ‘Here we go again.’ We started slower in the third because of that, and then we had to press a lot more at the end to get the equalizer.”
That press was part of the difference after Tarasenko’s second gave the Blues a 3-2 edge 12:26 into the third period. Stuck in defensive mode in previous third periods, the Blackhawks pressed this time. They also got the much-needed, net-front presence goal. Michal Rozsival fired from the blue line, and Bickell was in front for the redirect to tie it 3-3 with 3:52 remaining in regulation.
“It’s always nice to get a goal,” said Bickell, who got his first of the postseason. “But to give my line mates chances and to create havoc in front… good things happen when you go to the front of the net.”
[MORE: Kyle Long shoots the puck during intermission]
Then there was Kane, whose game returned in fine fashion. Kane was strong throughout but really took off once Quenneville threw him together with Patrick Sharp and Ben Smith. Kane, who scored off a pretty Johnny Oduya feed in the second period, rang one off the crossbar in overtime. A few minutes later, he was putting one past Ryan Miller for the winner.
“Every game feels like I’ve gotten a little bit better,” said Kane, who now has three postseason goals. “Whether it’s timing or getting used to playing in the playoffs again, whatever it may be, I’ll just try to keep getting better and better and use these games to my advantage.”
The Blackhawks reversed the roles on Wednesday. After being stung by late regulation goals and overtime losses in St. Louis, they returned the favor in Game 4. It was a clutch outing the Blackhawks need.
“We certainly like to avoid playing from behind. Scoring’s been at a minimum the last few games. But we got more comfortable as the game progressed,” Quenneville said. “I can’t say enough about how competitive it’s been in the four games: the battles, the resiliency and the will. So it was a huge win for us and got us back to even. We get the momentum. Let’s go in (to St. Louis) and look to sustain it.”