DETROIT, Mich. – Before the game started each team placed the pressure on the other. For the Chicago Blackhawks it would be win or go home, as for the Detroit Red Wings, a loss at home would be devastating as they will need to travel to Chicago for the series finale. Well tonight the Chicago Blackhawks won and will go home but they forced a Game 7 series finale in this Western Conference Semifinals on Wednesday night by defeating the Detroit Red Wings by the score of 4-3.
Tonight’s game as in the last game on Saturday night fit the mold of how Chicago has played all season. They played deep in the lineup, scored goals and didn’t panic when they were down on goals. You can see the difference in the fans also, if the game was played at the United Center, win or lose the fans stayed to the end, and those that did, on a few occasions the team came back and won or tied games in the last two minutes of play. But tonight at the Joe Louis Arena is was easy to spot the empty seats with almost three minutes left in the game. Detroit pulled their netminder Jimmy Howard on and off the last three minutes of the game, but the final member of the Red Wings scoring third line finally got a goal himself as center Daimen Brunner brought his team within one with fifty-two seconds left in the game. Some icing callbacks and mistakes by the Hawks enabled plenty of changes for the Red Wings but they just couldn’t muster a play to score.
To start the game, the Hawks tried to jumble their lineups to get the right pairings that they needed especial that of Jonathan Toews to get some more offense which did work for the most part as he assisted on two goals but it was the opposite for the team’s second goal. We start off yet again on the power play in the first. The Blackhawks won the faceoff at the left wing circle in Detroit’s end. Andrew Shaw went to the area in the front of the net as Toews sent the puck to the back as the three remaining Hawks tightly moving the puck eventually sending it to Toews at the goal-line where he sent it to the net where Marian Hossa shoveled the puck in with traffic in front 3:53 into the game.
But late in the period with a minute-nine left, Chicago couldn’t clear the puck out of their zone as defenseman Brendan Smith stopped the puck along the boards and made a touch pass to Drew Miller who fired the biscuit on net hitting Corey Crawford for a short rebound to Patrick Eaves who swept the puck around and in for his first of the playoffs.
Late goals in a period can really be deadly to a team that allowed it to go in but the two teams played evenly strong in the second. The Hawks fired 18 shots to their 10 in the period but the Red Wings were able to take the lead halfway through the middle frame. The final member of that strong third line of the Red Wings finally got on the goal sheet as center Joakim Andersson, rushed the puck in, popping it up to Jakub Kindl who in turned passed it right back, placed the puck on edge and fired a long floating knuckler in passed a stunned Crawford.
Chicago then came out strong in the third, scoring three straight goals. The team tried to get two centers in for the faceoff in the left wing zone of Chicago but the Red Wings had last change and could sneak him in but it all didn’t matter on this shift. The Hawks got the puck away Detroit lost possession of the puck along the boards as defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson drew two wingers to him and was able to pass to puck to a lone Michal Handzus who had all the time in the world to set the puck in fifty-one seconds into the final period to tie the game. The Hawks took the lead as they were able to draw players away and double-teaming players with the puck. Hossa held two players long enough, including defenseman Kyle Quincey who had no stick, for Toews to come in and possess the puck. The captain held on to the puck to create some time and space that the team seldom had in the series. This allowed him to pass the puck to Bryan Bickell who had a big presence in front of the net to get it and move it around Howard to give the Hawks a 3-2 lead at the 5:48 mark. This was Bickell’s fifth goal in the playoffs only second to Patrick Sharp’s six that were pretty much all scored in the first series against Minnesota.
Chicago finished the scoring on a rare penalty shot in the playoffs as Michael Frolik froze Howard to set up the backhander in over the glove shoulder halfway through the period.
Detroit outshot Chicago 38-28 but Crawford was very good in goal even though he should’ve stopped the one from Andersson. Crawford has had some issues with long shots that seem to knuckle in past him. But he also stood on his head stopping a series of shot before finally gloving the puck while without his stick. Howard suffered his seventh loss of the playoffs stopping 24 of 28 shots tonight.
Three Stars of the Game
Third Star: Detroit Red Wing Center Joakim Andersson with his first goal of the playoffs
Second Star: Chicago Blackhawks Right Wing Marian Hossa with a goal and an assist
First Star: Chicago Blackhawks Left Wing Bryan Bickell with a goal and two hits
WESTERN CONFERENCE SEMIFINALS
No. 1 Chicago Blackhawks vs. No. 7 Detroit Red Wings
Series tied 3-3
Game 1: Detroit Red Wings 1 at Chicago Blackhawks 4
Game 2: Detroit Red Wings 4 at Chicago Blackhawks 1
Game 3: Chicago Blackhawks 1 at Detroit Red Wings 3
Game 4: Chicago Blackhawks 0 at Detroit Red Wings 2
Game 5: Detroit Red Wings 1 at Chicago Blackhawks 4
Game 6: Chicago Blackhawks 4 at Detroit Red Wings 3
Game 7: Detroit Red Wings at Chicago Blackhawks, Wednesday, May 29, 7:00pm
All times central