CHICAGO -- Redemption is a soothing balm indeed, even in the bruising NHL playoff wars.
It could have gotten worse, but the 23-year-old left wing got another try. Give him about seven and seven-eighths games worth of mulligans. He earned them in the final two minutes. With the score tied, 2-2, and his team pressing, Versteeg jumped on a loose puck in the slot, just to the left of Canucks goalie
He got it seconds later when Hawks defenseman
"I felt good out there all night," Versteeg said, "but the bounces were definitely going against me up to that point. I was just looking for another opportunity. The second time, I just shot it. No waiting, no second thoughts. I just let it go. There was just enough open space and you don't get too many chances like that against such a great goalie. That was a nice comeback for us."
The Hawks needed it. As they did in Saturday's 5-1 victory, the Canucks got off to a quick start, getting goals by
With Keith in the box for holding the stick,
That set the stage for Versteeg's heroics. "Kris is the type of player who can put those other things behind him and come through for you like that," Sharp said. "We needed that from him and we'll probably need more of it before the series is over." This was a real breakthrough for Versteeg, who has netted 20 goals in each of his two full NHL seasons. Last spring, he also struggled at times in the playoffs, when he scored four times and was minus-5 for the postseason. He agreed that this was the biggest and most timely goal of his young career. "Oh, for sure," he said. "Nothing like this. It's a different time of year now. You don't get a lot of second chances, so this was pretty memorable."