The Chicago Blackhawks magical season rolls on.
A Brent Seabrook goal in overtime produced a 2-1 win over the Red Wings in Game 7 of the Western Conference semifinals, as the Hawks overcame a questionable officiating call late in the third period to advance.
A big hit by Dave Bolland started the sequence that allowed Seabrook to skate in and flick in a wrister 3:35 into the overtime period. The Hawks will begin the Western Conference finals against the Kings on Saturday.
Though Hawks fans surely believe things were done well before that.
The Hawks and Wings entered overtime tied 1-1 on goals by Patrick Sharp and Henrik Zetterberg, respectively, and bumped there by one immensely controversial waved-off goal that would have put the Hawks ahead in the final two minutes.
After his own turnover, the Hawks’ Brandon Saad recovered to poke the puck loose from Zetteberg and start a sequence that led to Niklas Hjalmarsson skating in from the blue line and blasting a slap shot past the Red Wings’ Jimmy Howard for the apparent go-ahead goal with 1:47 left to play.
Through the United Center’s elation, though, there was a whistle that negated everything.
Behind the play, the Red Wings’ Kyle Quincey crushed Saad into the boards and almost over into the visitors’ bench. Referee Stephen Walkom saw the ensuing scrum and skated in to whistle coincidental minor penalties on both Quincey and Saad.
The whistle, or even the intent to whistle, wiped out the Hjalmarsson goal, and matters eventually went to the extra period.
After Sharp got the Hawks moving in the right direction, the Red Wings answered early in the third period. A turnover and a bad read led to a Zetterberg goal and a 1-1 tie seconds into the final frame of Game 7.
Johnny Oduya lost a race to a puck with the Red Wings’ Dan Cleary, who chipped the puck ahead to Gustav Nyquist. Nyquist then sent a cross-ice pass on the rush to Zetterberg, and the Hawks’ Corey Crawford got stuck on the left side of the crease.
That left Zetterberg a wide open net for his first goal of the series and the equalizer just 26 seconds into the third period.
After a scoreless first, the Hawks needed just 68 seconds of the second to inflict the first damage of the night. Defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson won’t show up on the scoresheet for it, but he chased down a puck in the Hawks’ end and unleashed a beautiful stretch pass to Sharp that incited the three-man rush.
Sharp dumped the puck to Michal Handzus, who then fed Marian Hossa on one side, who then slid a pass that Sharp elevated pass a flailing Jimmy Howard for the 1-0 lead at the 1:08 mark.
The Hawks, with 24 shots through two periods, couldn’t add to it, though, allowing the Red Wings to hang around. A power play midway through the second produced zero shots, and Stalberg was just barely out of position for a rebound score late in the period off an Andrew Shaw shot on an odd-man rush.
The Red Wings had the first gilded chance to seize momentum, but Corey Crawford denied that while he was denying a flurry of shots on an early power play. Crawford’s most brilliant sequence came with a pad save on a Damien Brunner screamer from the faceoff circle, followed by two more kick saves on rebound attempts from Cleary.
Crawford also denied Johan Franzen on his doorstep later in the power play, and the Red Wings would go wanting on the man advantage.
But so did the Blackhawks. Two power play chances resulted in zero scores. And the Hawks managed just one shot on the first of them, doing most of their best work at even strength. An early Jonathan Toews charge and deflection was denied by Howard, and Stalberg couldn’t one-time a backhand pass from Brandon Saad past Howard late in the first period.
The Red Wings were attempting to win their second consecutive Game 7 on the road after upsetting the Ducks in the first round.
The Hawks were attempting to become just the 21st team out of 230 to trail a series 3-1 and come back to win it.
And whoever accomplished that would move on to the Western Conference finals against the Kings.