Blackhawks 2 Canucks 1 (OT)
CHICAGO — Andrew Ladd had perfect position. When the puck came flying off teammate Dave Bolland’s stick from far away, Ladd was right in front of Vancouver goalie Roberto Luongo to tip it in.
Ladd’s goal less than three minutes into overtime Thursday night capped a remarkable 2-1 comeback victory for the Chicago Blackhawks and tied the Western Conference semifinal series at 2.
“Bolland has great patience with the puck,” Ladd said. “He turned around, saw my stick and got it to the right spot. We’ve got a little momentum here and can take it back to Vancouver.”
Game 5 is Saturday night in Vancouver and the Canucks will have to regroup after losing a game they apparently had sealed up. Chicago’s Martin Havlat tied it at 1 with 2:44 left in regulation after Luongo had been unflappable most of the night.
“We were a couple of minutes away from winning this game,” Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault said. “It happened. We’ve got to deal with it and get ready for the next game.”
After the Canucks had two point-blank shots to score, but were turned away by Nikolai Khabibulin, Bolland chased down the puck along the boards at the other end.
He fired a shot from beyond the right circle and Ladd knocked it in at 2:52 of overtime.
“It was a shot from the half wall. Ladd was right in front of me,” said Luongo, who finished with 26 saves. “It was coming fast from the outside of the net.
“I extended my leg and he tipped it in the five-hole, so it was a good play by him.”
Havlat’s tying goal came on a wrist shot from between the circles after Ladd had worked the puck free from the boards and shovelled it in his direction.
“I had 1-on-1 against the goalie and Ladd gave me a great pass. I had a lot of time and I haven’t had that in this series,” Havlat said. “We kept fighting until the last second and it paid off. We were patient.”
In the closing seconds of regulation, Bolland had a breakaway before Vancouver’s Alexander Edler caught up to him, hit his stick from behind and then forced him away from the net.
Bolland went down on the play and the crowd at the United Centre screamed for a penalty with 8.2 seconds to go.
Darcy Hordichuk took a pass from a spinning Rick Rypien to score his first playoff goal midway through the second period to put the Canucks up 1-0 — the fourth straight game Vancouver opened the scoring.
And Luongo again appeared too tough for the Blackhawks to crack.
After allowing eight goals in the two games at Vancouver, Luongo gave up just one in Game 3 and looked on his way to a shutout before Havlat tied it.
“A huge comeback for us. We’re right back in the series now,” Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said. “It looked grim, but the enthusiasm was in the right places.”
After Chicago’s Jonathan Toews had his shot blocked, Rypien scooped up the puck and raced to the other end against Blackhawks defenseman Matt Walker.
Just before reaching the circles, Rypien made a spin move to evade Walker and then passed to Hordichuk, who beat Khabibulin on the stick side for the 1-0 lead.
The score came shortly after Luongo made a spectacular stop on a rebound attempt by Chicago’s Troy Brouwer. After the Canucks went ahead and with each team down a man, Luongo made a sprawling pad save to deny Patrick Sharp.
Chicago came out with strong early rush and Luongo had five saves in the first six minutes, including another nice pad stop of Toews’ point-blank attempt just as a power play was expiring.
The Blackhawks mustered an 8-4 shots-on-goal advantage but were blanked in the opening period for the fourth straight game.
Khabibulin finished with 14 saves.