The top-seeded Chicago Blackhawks will try to complete an impressive comeback to win the Western Conference semifinals, as they host the Detroit Red Wings in Wednesday's Game 7 at United Center.
After taking Game 1 of this best-of-seven set, the Blackhawks lost three straight to the seventh-seeded Red Wings to fall behind 3-1 in the series. However, Chicago posted a 4-1 win on home ice in Game 5 and then tied the series at 3-3 with Monday's 4-3 decision in Detroit.
The Blackhawks, who won the Presidents' Trophy as the team with the best record during the regular season, trailed Detroit by a 2-1 score heading into the third period on Monday, but used a strong final stanza to stay alive and force a Game 7.
Behind a three-goal third period, Chicago notched a 4-3 win over the Red Wings in Game 6. Michal Handzus, Bryan Bickell and Michael Frolik provided the goals in the third period to set up tonight's showdown in the Windy City.
Marian Hossa also scored a goal for the Blackhawks and Corey Crawford made 35 saves for the all-important 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."
Damien Brunner, Patrick Eaves and Joakim Andersson each scored a goal for the Red Wings, who saw Jimmy Howard give up all four goals on 28 shots.
Chicago went 1-for-5 on the power play while Detroit was 0-for-3. The Blackhawks have killed off 38 of the 39 shorthanded situations they have faced in this postseason.
"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."
Detroit last lost a series when leading it 3-1 in 1991, when it was ousted from the opening round by St. Louis.
The winner of Wednesday's battle will go on to face the fifth-seeded Los Angeles Kings in the Western Conference finals. The defending Stanley Cup champions won a home Game 7 over the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday to punch their ticket to the conference finals.
Chicago is 5-1 as the home team in the playoffs going 18-3-3 at the United Center during the regular season. Meanwhile, Detroit is 3-4 as the guest in the postseason, following an 11-9-4 mark away from Joe Louis Arena this season.
However, Detroit has already won a Game 7 on the road in this postseason, beating second-seeded Anaheim by a 3-2 score to take the first-round series. Chicago last played in a Game 7 in the opening round of the 2011 playoffs against Vancouver, which posted a 2-1 overtime victory on home ice.
This will be the third Game 7 between these two teams and first since the Blackhawks won in a semifinal matchup in 1965. The Red Wings are 14-9 all-time in this situation, while Chicago is 5-5 in Game 7s.
Hossa and Detroit's Pavel Datsyuk enter tonight's test with the most Game 7 experience of any players on either team. Hossa has four assists over six Game 7s, while Datsyuk has four goals and one helper in his six games in this situation.
Howard is 2-1 in three Game 7 appearances, while Crawford is 0-1, having lost the 2011 encounter in Vancouver.
This is the 16th overall meeting in the playoffs between these two teams, with Chicago taking eight of the previous series.