He did it again.
Antoine Vermette, a healthy scratch in two games of the first round and again in one contest of the Western Conference Final, scored the biggest goal of his 11-season NHL career Wednesday night. Almost two minutes after Teuvo Teravainen tied Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final in the third period, Vermette blasted a top-shelf wrist shot that eluded Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Ben Bishop at 15:26. It was just Vermette’s third goal of the playoffs, but second game winner in five games.
His other game-winning tally, netted in double overtime of Game 4 against the Anaheim Ducks, came after serving as a healthy scratch in Game 3.
Vermette, 32, was acquired from the Arizona Coyotes at the NHL Trade Deadline to bring in secondary scoring for a Chicago Blackhawks roster that, at the time, was without superstar Patrick Kane. Vermette was less than impressive after joining his new squad, turning out zero goals and three measly assists in 19 regular-season games.
Head coach Joel Quenneville’s annoyance with his new player showed, as Vermette sat out Games 1 and 2 of the first round. He returned for Games 3 through 6, but averaged just 13:18 per game (with triple overtime occurring in Game 4). With Kane back in the lineup for the entirety of the playoffs, the necessity of Vermette to fill in on a top-six role was all but diminished.
However, Vermette seems to be right at home while pivoting Patrick Sharp and Teuvo Teravainen on the team’s third line. The line has combined for 10 goals and 26 points in the playoffs and has remained a pure scoring threat every time the puck is in the offensive zone.
Although Vermette has just 12 goals in 73 career playoff games, the four-time 20-goal scorer seems determined to provide his team with an important goal in every contest. If he can emulate his game-deciding shot in the third period of Game 1, he will find more success as the Blackhawks attempt to claim three more wins.
Here is the rest of your NHL news from a memorable night in hockey:
More on Antoine Vermette and his line’s big Game 1 performance. [Second City Hockey]
The Lightning collapsed in the third period. [Bolts By The Bay]
Was there another biting incident in a Stanley Cup Final game? [Bleacher Report]
Looking at salaries and numbers in general, here are the best players for their buck in the SCF. [Forbes]
Gary Bettman told reporters that he expects the Coyotes and Panthers are safe from relocation. [Puck Daddy]
Bill Daly also shot down rumors of relocation. [TSN.ca]
Penguins ownership could be looking to sell the team. [WTAE Pittsburgh]
The 2015 NHL Awards Show will feature Rob Riggle, Daughtry as headliners. [Las Vegas Review-Journal]
The Blue Jackets have allowed prospect Mike Reilly to talk with other teams. [Puck-Rakers Blog]
Oskar Sundqvist is likely to suit up for the Penguins next season. [Today’s Slapshot]