Dave Bolland's long and difficult road just to get back on the ice landed him in the playoffs. And his Chicago Blackhawks teammates were singing "Welcome Back" after he made sure they'll get to play at least one more game.
Bolland returned after missing 17 games with a concussion and had an immediate impact for a desperate team, scoring a goal and assisting on three others Tuesday night as the defending Stanley Cup champions routed the Vancouver Canucks 7-2 to avoid elimination.
Vancouver still leads the series 3-1, headed home for Game 5 on Thursday night.
"Obviously, he (Bolland) helped a lot tonight, but he's not a guy who is going to change the series," said Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo, who was pulled in the third period shortly after giving up his sixth goal.
On March 9, Bolland took an elbow to the head against Tampa Bay — and for 5½ weeks, he dealt with physical problems and bouts of depression stemming from the concussion.
"There was a time when I didn't think I was gonna come back. You never know when you're going to get out of the headaches, the fuzziness," Bolland said.
He passed a final test Tuesday morning, and after getting acclimated during a first shift, he provided some of what the Blackhawks have been missing.
"I wasn't thinking I'd get four points. I was hoping for the win. I got both," Bolland said.
"He gave us that spark and not just offensively," Chicago's Jonathan Toews said. "He brings balance to our four forward lines. He got us going."
Can the Blackhawks ride the momentum into the next game at Rogers Arena, where they lost the first two games of the series?
"The last time I checked, we're up 3-1 in the series. We've done it all year. We're a team that's overcome a lot of things," Luongo said. "Obviously we're disappointed we lost, but if we said we're going to be up 3-1 after four games, we would have taken it."
Chicago's Patrick Sharp scored two power-play goals in a chippy final period that featured pushing, shoving, jawing and a fight between Vancouver's Kevin Bieska and Chicago's Viktor Stalberg.
The teams don't like each other to start with, and things got even testier after Chicago's Brent Seabrook was ruled out of Game 4 with an upper-body injury, the result of a hard hit to the head from Vancouver's Raffi Torres.
"All score related," Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said of the final-period unpleasantries that featured numerous penalties for misconducts, one of those handed out to Torres.
"We were down by quite a few goals and there was a lot going on out there. We'll just leave it at that," Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault said.
The Blackhawks got an offensive lift from their defensemen as Brian Campbell and Duncan Keith scored 17 seconds apart in a four-goal second period. Michael Frolik also had a second-period goal on a breakaway after taking a pass from Bolland.
Bryan Bickell scored a goal 1:43 into the game to get the Blackhawks and the crowd going.
"I felt good. I was seeing the puck well, so I'm just going to put it behind me. I mean, I'm not going to beat myself up over it," said Luongo, adding he experienced some cramping at the end of the first period, a condition that was not serious.
Sami Salo scored on a power play for the Canucks in the first period and Daniel Sedin added a power-play goal on a tip-in in the final period.
"We're going to park this one, turn the page on it and be ready for the next one," Vigneault said.
"We know the adjustments we need to make are really simple."
NOTES: Chicago G Corey Crawford had 21 saves and got a rare assist on Campbell's goal for making the initial pass to Kane. ... The four points were a career high for Bolland. ... Daniel Sedin has four goals in the four games.