Blackhawks can clinch at home but Tampa do not fear the road

Sun Jun 14, 2015 7:45pm EDT
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(Reuters) - The Chicago Blackhawks are on the verge of winning their third Stanley Cup championship in six years thanks to the performance of depth players like Antoine Vermette in Game Five.

Vermette’s game-winning goal in Chicago's 2-1 win against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday has the Blackhawks a victory away from celebrating another NHL title.

Game Six is set for the United Center in Chicago on Monday. It is an opportunity for the Blackhawks to celebrate their first Stanley Cup title on home ice since 1938.

They won their last three championships on the road in 1960-61, 2009-10 and 2012-13.

“I'm sure it will be crazy over the next two days in town,” Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. “The buzz will be off the charts. Looking forward to it.”

There was a time when Quenneville did not look forward to finding a spot in the lineup for the 32-year-old Vermette. He was scratched for the first two postseason games and again in Game Three of the Western Conference final against the Anaheim Ducks.

It was not a good situation because the Blackhawks paid a hefty price in acquiring him from the Arizona Coyotes on Feb. 28 in exchange for defense man Klas Dahlbeck and a 2015 first-round draft pick.

But Vermette has found a groove. He has three game-winners in his last nine games, including two in the Stanley Cup final, and has been dominant in the face-off circle.

“Right off the get-go, this was a great opportunity for me,” he said. “I want to make the best out of it. This is a special team.   Continued...

Jun 13, 2015; Tampa, FL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks center Antoine Vermette (80) celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal against the Tampa Bay Lightning in the third period game five of the 2015 Stanley Cup Final at Amalie Arena.  Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports