Detroit, MI – This could be the last time Chicago and Detroit meet in the playoffs for a while due to the new realignment plan. Thankfully, they're making the most of it.
Behind a three-goal third period, the Chicago Blackhawks posted a 4-3 win over the Detroit Red Wings in Game 6 of this Western Conference semifinal.
Next season, these Original Six teams will be in separate conferences and this series appeared to be in the bag for Detroit after a 2-0 win in Game 4 gave the team a 3-1 lead in the series.
The Blackhawks, though, rebounded with a 4-1 win at home on Saturday and goals from Michal Handzus, Bryan Bickell and Michael Frolik in the third period on Monday forced a Game 7 that will take place in Chicago on Wednesday.
Marian Hossa also scored a goal for the Presidents' Trophy-winning Blackhawks, who got 35 saves from Corey Crawford.
Damien Brunner, Patrick Eaves and Joakim Andersson each scored a goal for the seventh-seeded Red Wings, who saw Jimmy Howard give up all four goals on 28 shots.
Trailing by a goal entering the third period, the Blackhawks took over in the final frame and tied the game just 51 seconds in.
Niklas Hjalmarsson kept in a wraparound along the right boards and fed it to the low right side where Handzus lifted the puck past Howard under a minute into the third.
Just under five minutes later, Chicago took a 3-2 lead after good work in the right corner saw the puck dug out by Jonathan Toews, who threw it to the front and Bickell was able to chip it in for his fifth of the playoffs.
Frolik blocked a shot in his own end and raced the other way on a breakaway. He was unable to get a shot off as he lost the puck, but was awarded a penalty shot as Carlo Colaiacovo slashed him across the hands.
Skating in on the free chance, Frolik shifted quickly to the backhand and was able to lift the puck into the right corner for a 4-2 lead with 10:17 to play.
"I thought we did tons of good things tonight, but we made some young mistakes in the third period and they wound up in our net," said Detroit head coach Mike Babcock. "But I thought our energy was fantastic and that we played good. Just couldn't handle our execution there in the third period."
The teams were skating 4-on-4 late and the Wings pulled Howard from the net for an extra attacker.
A right circle faceoff in the Chicago zone was lost, but Daniel Cleary eventually found it in the corner and fed it to the right circle for Pavel Datsyuk, who sent it back to the top of the left circle and Brunner one-timed it home with 51.7 seconds left.
Detroit again got Howard out of the net for an extra attacker and was able to get a pair of faceoffs in the Chicago end thanks to icing calls, but Toews won the last one with 15.6 seconds to go and the Blackhawks were able to get the puck out of the zone to seal the win.
"Our team was fine heading into the third period and I thought we played really well," said Chicago head coach Joel Quenneville. "Crawford and the rest of the guys played really well in that final frame. Handzus' goal got us going and we took care of our play from there."
Chicago was awarded the first power play of the game as Jakub Kindl was called for interference at 3:44. It took all of nine seconds for the Blackhawks to get on the board as a left circle faceoff win allowed the team to control the puck. Toews brought the puck from the left corner to the front of the net and Hossa was able to jam it in despite having a defender draped on him for his fifth of the playoffs.
Detroit, though, tied the game with 1:09 to play in the opening frame. A wrap around the boards was knocked down by Brendan Smith and it went to the right point. Drew Miller's big shot was stopped by Crawford, but the rebound came out to the right side and Eaves buried it for his first of the playoffs.
The Red Wings took a pair of penalties early in the second period as Johan Franzen was whistled for roughing at 1:08 and a too many men on the ice called at 3:32 was served by Gustav Nyquist.
On the second advantage, Howard kept the game tied by making a nice save on a Toews chance down low and the Red Wings went ahead just past the midway mark of the frame.
Andersson skated into the Chicago end down the left wing and from the top of the circle wound up for a shot. The puck was rolling as he blasted it on net and it fooled Crawford over the glove for his first-ever playoff goal and a 2-1 lead at 10:11.
Chicago dodged a bullet later in the second after Michal Rozsival was called for high sticking with 2:23 to play, but Crawford kept the puck out of the net and finished the frame with 17 saves.
Howard kept 10 shots out of the net to allow Detroit to take the 2-1 lead into the third.
This will be the third Game 7 between these two teams in the playoffs and first since the Hawks won in a semifinal matchup in 1965 ... This is the 16th meeting in the playoffs between these two teams, with Chicago taking eight of the previous series ... Chicago went 1-for-5 on the power play while Detroit was 0-for-3 ... Chicago has killed off 38 of the 39 shorthanded situations it has faced in the playoffs ... Toews finished the game with two assists.