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Blackhawks’ gamble on seldom-used Peter Regin pays off

Updated: May 12, 2014 12:37AM



The Blackhawks were muddling through another disappointing effort in Game 5 when Peter Regin made a difference. Yes, Peter Regin.

On an offensive rush with his team trailing by a goal in the second period, Regin charged through the middle of the ice on a beeline straight to the net. He didn’t make it, but he drew a hooking penalty from Jonas Brodin that eventually changed the course of the Hawks’ fortunes.

Bryan Bickell scored a power-play goal 43 seconds later when he deflected Patrick Kane’s shot in front of the net for a 1-1 tie. The momentum shift was all the Hawks needed for a 2-1 victory that gave them a 3-2 series lead.

“That’s my game, coming through the middle like that,” said Regin, who was playing in his first NHL playoff game in four years. “That’s what I like to do. That’s what I need to get back to — coming with speed through the middle and get the puck and try to create something off that.

“That’s always been my game, and I kind of got away from that a little bit. But I tried to go in straight lines and go to the net for the most part.”

Regin’s aggressiveness helped give coach Joel Quenneville something he’s been desperately seeking in this series — a fourth line he can be proud of. Promoting Regin to the fourth line in Game 5 was his latest attempt at a spark, and this one clearly worked.

Without denting the score sheet, the fourth line of Regin, Kris Versteeg and Brandon Saad made its presence count in one key statistic: ice time. Regin was on the ice for 11:27 of the game at even strength, Versteeg for 12:41 and Saad for 15:44.

That was a major improvement from Game 4, when Joakim Nordstrom (6:30), Jeremy Morin (7:09) and Brandon Bollig (4:38) were hardly factors at all, robbing the Hawks of the four-line rotation that helps make them tough to beat.

“He [Regin] came in and gave us good presence. Speed in the middle,” Quenneville said. “Steeger, too. That line was effective for us — gave us more balance, a four-line rotation. It was a good response [from Regin] in the first playoff game for him. We liked what we saw.”

Regin, acquired on Feb. 6 in a trade with the New York Islanders for a fourth-round draft pick, took advantage of his opportunity. He was in a tough spot — he had not played in 29 days, since the regular-season finale. But he concentrated on the positive — fresh legs — instead of nervousness or rust.

“I just wanted play my game and try to stay in the lineup that way and try to help out the team in these important games,” he said.

Email: mpotash@suntimes.com

Twitter: @MarkPotash



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