Nothing has changed for the Chicago Blackhawks, in that one more loss puts a premature end on an otherwise brilliant season. The hope is that everything has changed, though, for Game 6, with momentum and belief swerving away from the Red Wings.
“We have our backs against the wall again tonight,” Hawks defenseman Brent Seabrook said.
The Red Wings shoved them up against it hard through two periods, but a furious third-period rally featured goals from Michal Handzus, Bryan Bickell and Michael Frolik to forge a 4-3 win and allow the Hawks to force Game 7 on Wednesday at the United Center.
There was a massively needed fast start before a Joe Louis Arena crowd prepared to detonate at the first good sign from the home team. Instead, the Red Wings got an interference penalty on Jakub Kindl a little less than four minutes in, and the Hawks got to work.
A faceoff win by Jonathan Toews began a virtual tic-tac-toe sequence with Duncan Keith feeding Hossa, who fed Toews, who crashed to the net and caused a logjam with Andrew Shaw. The puck came free and Hossa slid in to knock it home, with officials reviewing that the net was not dislodged before the score.
Thus the Hawks had the 1-0 lead at the 3:53 mark, just nine seconds into the power play — the third power play score in the past two games.
The end of the period saw the Red Wings build momentum and camp out more in the Hawks’ zone, and eventually the payoff came. Drew Miller collected a puck rimmed along the boards near the top of the faceoff circle and sent a blast toward Crawford, who had a good look at the shot but gave up a juicy rebound.
There, Patrick Eaves pounced, poking the loose puck past Crawford for the equalizing goal at the 18:51 mark of the first.
And then came the moment that, save a stirring comeback, might get etched in Hawks’ fans minds for the rest of the offseason.
Andersson skated into the zone and fired from the faceoff circle to Crawford’s right, with his shot appearing to go on edge and end-over-end to the net. But Crawford had a clean look at it, and the puck sailed right past his glove and in for the 2-1 lead at the 10:11 mark.
Handzus erased all that, stunningly, to start the third.
The Hawks swarmed the zone early in the last frame and got the payoff after Niklas Hjalmarsson kept a play alive deep in the zone. He fed Handzus on the doorstep, and the veteran center patiently waited for Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard to commit before flicking a shot off the far post and in for the 2-2 tie just 51 seconds into the third.
Bickell continued his masterful postseason touch a few minutes later, punching in a score in a scrum near the net for his fifth playoff goal and a 3-2 lead at the 5:48 mark of the third.
Then came the moment where it all came undone, thanks to more sterling defensive play from Frolik. The winger blocked a Carlo Colaiacovo shot, then streaked in on Howard only to have Colaiacovo hack him from behind to prompt a penalty shot.
And Frolik delivered, with a nasty forehand-backhand roof shot past Howard, making it a stunning 4-2 lead at the 9:43 mark.
A Hossa penalty with 61 seconds to play, however, infused some drama into the final seconds. Damien Brunner was able to punch in a score with 58 seconds left to cut the Hawks’ lead to 4-3 and leave them to scramble with Howard out of the net for the final moments.
Even more gut-wrenching was Johnny Oduya’s effort at an empty-net goal that became an icing call, as Oduya didn’t realize the team was at even strength with half a minute left. Another icing call off a faceoff with 15.6 seconds left continued the angst, before a final shot was denied to prompt Game 7.
-Chicago Tribune Reporting