The Chicago Blackhawks and Tampa Bay Lightning were both treating Game five of the Stanley Cup Final as a must win.
The Lightning tried to take a 3-2 series lead but the playoff experience of the Blackhawks calmed the storm. The Blackhawks now hold a 3-2 series lead heading back to Chicago tomorrow night and can finish what they started on home ice. The Blackhawks haven’t won the Stanley Cup on home ice in Chicago since 1938. They eliminated the Philadelphia Flyers in Game 6 in Philadelphia in 2010 and the Boston Bruins in Game 6 in Boston in 2013.
The majority of those who have watched this series would agree that the Blackhawks have been outplayed by the Lightning most of this series. While the experience of this Blackhawks team and the outstanding play of Corey Crawford has played a big part in their three victories this series, an unlikely hero has stepped up to the task and accomplished something that no Blackhawks player ever has before in the Stanley Cup Final. Antoine Vermette scored the game winning goal in the third period off of a rebound given up by Lightning goalie Ben Bishop.
That is Antoine Vermette’s second game winning goal of the Stanley Cup Final. He is now the first Blackhawks player in franchise history to score multiple game winning goals in the same Stanley Cup Final series. Vermette was traded to the Blackhawks at the end of February but did not make a big impact for the remainder of the regular season. He has also been a healthy scratch in the playoffs three times already this year. However, Vermette has rebounded in the last two playoff series and has four playoff goals, three of which have been important game winning goals.
Going from a healthy scratch to scoring two game-winning goals is pretty remarkable. It’s safe to say that Vermette has earned Quenneville’s trust again. When the Blackhawks acquired Vermette from the Arizona Coyotes for Klas Dahlbeck and a first round pick in 2015, it was known as a gamble.
Now with the Blackhawks one win away from a third Stanley Cup in six seasons and Vermette looking for his first, that gamble is looking like it paid off.