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Blackhawks come back and stun Vancouver
By Tim Sassone | Daily Herald Staff

Chicago Blackhawks' Martin Havlat watches his shot go into the net behind Vancouver Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo (1) during the closing minutes of the third period to tie Game 4 of the NHL Western Conference semifinal series.


Associated Press

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Published: 5/7/2009 10:09 PM | Updated: 5/8/2009 12:08 AM

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That wasn't an ordinary hockey game at the United Center on Thursday night.

It was a happening.

And years from now there likely will be thousands more people saying they were there the night the Blackhawks turned what was looking to be a crushing defeat into a stunning 2-1 overtime victory over the Vancouver Canucks.

Trailing 1-0 with the clock winding down, Martin Havlat scored with 2:44 remaining in regulation. Andrew Ladd then won it on a tip-in 2:52 into OT.

The victory by the Hawks tied the best-of-seven Western Conference semifinal series 2-2 heading to Vancouver for Game 5 on Saturday night.

"That was a huge comeback and we're back in the series now," Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said.

Ladd planted himself in front of Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo and tipped in Dave Bolland's turnaround slap shot from along the right boards.

"We had big pressure and I was trying to get a screen in front of Luongo when I saw Bolly wind up," Ladd said. "We just stuck to our game tonight and played our system right to the end."

It was also Ladd who set up Havlat's tying goal with a pass out of the corner.

Frustrated by the Canucks' defense and Luongo deep into the third period, the Hawks stuck with what they were doing.

They held the Canucks to just 15 shots on goal.

"We had good chances all game and I thought we deserved to win tonight," Duncan Keith said.

"It just took time," Bolland said. "Sometimes you've got to wait for it. You can't get frustrated and get mad. You just have to stay with it."

Havlat, quiet for the first three games with just 2 assists and 6 shots, pounced on Ladd's pass in the slot and snapped a shot past Luongo.

"We stayed patient and just kept working hard," Havlat said. "It doesn't matter who scores the goal in the playoffs. It's all about winning."

The Hawks had a chance to win in the final seconds of regulation when Bolland had a breakaway from center ice. But Bolland never got off a shot as he was slashed twice by defenseman Alex Edler with referees Kelly Sutherland and Marc Joannette swallowing their whistles.

Havlat's goal gave the Hawks a ton of momentum, which they carried into overtime.

"We came back with confidence," Bolland said. "We all had an extra boost. We knew when we were going out there that we were going to score."

Seconds before Ladd won it, Hawks goalie Nikolai Khabibulin saved the day with a point-black stop on Alex Burrows.

"That was huge, that one save there," Quenneville said. "But that's what he brings to our team - timely saves - and he's been in that position for us all year."

The Hawks outshot the Canucks 24-14 in regulation, going to overtime for the second time in the playoffs.

The Hawks played exactly the kind of first period Quenneville wanted, energetic and physical, but they couldn't get anything past Luongo.

Patrick Sharp led the way physically in the opening period with 4 of the Hawks' 17 hits. Ladd and Dustin Byfuglien had 3 each.

The second period was even more frustrating for the Hawks, who carried much of the play only to run into Luongo time and time again.

To make matters worse, the Canucks got a goal from fourth-line tough guy Darcy Hordichuk at 8:32 on a counter play after a Hawks flurry at the other end.

Moments after the goal, Sharp busted in on Luongo and appeared to have him beat, but the all-star goaltender stuck out his left pad while sprawled on his stomach and made the critical save.

"Today was probably one of the best chess matches I've seen in hockey so far this year," Canucks coach Alain Vigneault said. "It's unfortunate we didn't come out with the win."

Tim Sassone's game-tracker

Three stars

1. Andrew Ladd

Hawks' unsung hero set up Martin Havlat's tying goal with 2:44 to play in regulation then won it himself on a tip-in 2:52 into overtime.

2. Martin Havlat

His tying goal gave the Hawks all the momentum, and he also assisted on Ladd's winner.

3. Nikolai Khabibulin

Hawks goalie faced only 15 shots, but his point-blank stop on Alex Burrows seconds before Ladd won it saved the day.

Key stat

The Hawks outhit the Canucks 41-22 with Troy Brouwer, Brent Seabrook and Dustin Byfuglien combining for 19 of them.

Big moment

Andrew Ladd winning a battle along the boards and feeding Havlat for the game-tying goal late in regulation.

The quote

"It doesn't matter who scores the goals in the playoffs. It's all about winning."

- Hawks winger Martin Havlat

Looking ahead

With the series tied 2-2, Saturday's Game 5 in Vancouver should be memorable. Get plenty of rest during the day because it's a 9:30 p.m. start.