With the minutes ticking down and the Blackhawks trailing, seeds of uncertainty began creeping into players' heads.
That will happen when the opposing goaltender is Vancouver's Roberto Luongo and he's on the verge of his second career postseason shutout, which would give his team a commanding two-game lead after Game 4 of this best-of-seven Western Conference semifinals.
The doubt and the Canucks' edge in the game and the series were erased when Martin Havlat tied the contest late in the third period and Andrew Ladd won it in overtime to give the Hawks a 2-1 victory before a roaring crowd of 22,685 at the United Center. The scintillating comeback evened the series 2-2 as it shifts to Vancouver for Game 5 on Saturday night.
"We had a lot of great chances and a lot of shots around the net that don't go in. You ask yourself, 'When are you going to get that break, and when is it finally going to go in for you?' " Hawks captain Jonathan Toews said. "We were pretty excited on the bench when it finally did.
"You don't want to doubt yourself, but when the clock starts ticking down you start putting a little bit more pressure on yourself and ... the pace picks up near the end. You get stressed out a bit on the bench, but it was a good comeback."
Trailing 1-0 in the third, Havlat scored his fourth goal of the postseason and first of the series with 2 minutes 44 seconds remaining to spark the comeback.
After Ladd battled along the boards and squirted the puck to Havlat, the veteran winger skated across the top of the right circle to the slot where he buried a wrist shot past Luongo on the glove side.
That got the crowd and the Hawks jumping, and they wasted little time in the overtime to score the game-winner that should shift the momentum in the series their way.
In the extra session, Havlat controlled the puck in the Canucks zone and eventually got it to Dave Bolland, who fired a shot from the top of the right circle that Ladd got a stick on to redirect it past Luongo just 2:52 into overtime.
"We had pretty good pressure in their end," Ladd said. "Marty had the presence of mind to have patience with the puck to kind of set up the whole thing and he found Bolland. He made a great play in front and it found my stick."
The goal set off a wild celebration from the Hawks and fans who knew then there would be a Game 6 back in Chicago on Monday night.
"We came back and tied it up and came [into overtime] with confidence," Bolland said. "We all had an extra boost. We knew when going out there we were going to score."
Luongo and Nikolai Khabibulin battled in a duel of goaltenders for much of the game, with Darcy Hordichuk's second-period goal the lone tally to give Vancouver a lead it held until Havlat's heroics. Luongo finished with 26 saves while Khabibulin made 14 to record the victory.
"It was a huge comeback for us and we're right back in the series now," Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "The momentum in this series has been pretty remarkable. The enthusiasm on the bench ... was that we were going to get it done. It looked dim and grim. The enthusiasm was in the right places. The building was shaking at that point."Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times