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updated: 4/24/2014 10:52 PM

Bickell puts some teeth into Hawks attack

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  • Bryan Bickell, right, celebrates his game-tying goal with Jonathan Toews late in the third period Wednesday during the Hawks' 4-3 overtime victory over the Blues at the United Center.

      Bryan Bickell, right, celebrates his game-tying goal with Jonathan Toews late in the third period Wednesday during the Hawks' 4-3 overtime victory over the Blues at the United Center.
    John Starks | Staff Photographer

 
 

Parked in front of the net, where his 6-foot-4, 233-pound frame comes in handy, Bryan Bickell scored a big playoff-hockey goal Wednesday night.

Not as huge, mind you, as the one he netted in the finals against Boston that helped result in a Stanley Cup championship, although his reaction did look similar.

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His eyes got wide.

His mouth opened wider.

He pumped his arms and shoulders simultaneously.

Seventeen famous seconds later, the Blackhawks had the lead and, eventually, a name for their Cup-winning video.

But gone from last season is Bickell's perfect hockey smile -- middle top teeth missing.

"I got the new teeth now, so you won't see the toothless unless they get knocked out again," Bickell said, smiling, showing off his new choppers following the Blackhawks' 4-3 overtime win over St. Louis at the United Center in Game 4 of the teams' opening-round playoff series late Wednesday night. "You get pumped for any goal, even the (game-) tier. It's an awesome feeling. More importantly, it's just the feeling of winning."

Bickell's game-tying tally with 3:52 left was his first goal and first point of the playoffs -- and first since he so memorably converted Jonathan Toews' feed with 1:16 left in Game 6 of last year's Stanley Cup Finals. After that game-tying goal, Bickell roared, flashing his missing top teeth. The smile -- if it can be called that -- will forever make Blackhawks fans smile.

Bickell has been a physical presence throughout the Blues series, which resumes tonight in St. Louis. He led the Blackhawks in hits in both Game 3 (8) and Game 4 (7). But it was his 9 goals and 8 assists in 23 playoff games last season that earned him a four-year, $16 million contract.

In 59 regular-season games this season, he produced only 11 goals.

On the positive side, Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville noticed a trend. As each week passed the last couple of months of the regular season, Bickell was picking up his play in anticipation, no doubt, of the postseason.

"He was gunning for the playoffs," Quenneville said. "You could see him pick up his game. (He's) a very close representative of what he was like last year in the playoffs. I think he likes the big stage and likes the big challenge, and getting big minutes and quality ice time, as well. He seems to relish those situations. I commend him on having a big game (Wednesday night)."

Bickell was reunited on a line with Toews and Patrick Kane in Games 3 and 4. But when he scored his clutch goal, redirecting Michal Rozsival's shot from the point, he was skating with Toews and Marian Hossa.

Who knows what Quenneville's line combinations will be for Game 5. If Bickell has indeed found his scoring touch, it might not matter who he's playing with.

"Getting a goal gives you some confidence," Bickell said. "To score with a couple of minutes left to tie it up -- and hearing that crowd -- gets you fired up. Hopefully it can spark something going into St. Louis."

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