Chicago, IL – The Blackhawks are back in the Western Conference finals, as Brent Seabrook scored 3:35 into overtime to give Chicago a 2-1 win over Detroit in Game 7 of this Western Conference semifinal series.
In the extra session, Dave Bolland put a big hit on Gustav Nyquist along the boards in the neutral zone and it sprung the puck loose. Picking it up ahead of his own blue line, Seabrook skated up the middle and let fly with a wrist shot that tipped off the leg of Niklas Kronwall, changing direction enough to fool Jimmy Howard to end the game and series.
"I saw Kronwall was a little backed up and coach talks about it all the time, use the D-man as a screen," said Seabrook. "I know Kronwall likes to get down on a knee and block pucks and he's great at it. I just wanted to give it a chance and get it on net and it bounced off Kronwall and went on in."
The Presidents' Trophy winners will now host the Los Angeles Kings, who took out San Jose in seven games, to decide who will represent the West in the Stanley Cup Finals with Game 1 set for Saturday.
Chicago capped its first trip to the conference finals since 2010 in remarkable fashion as the team had to rally from a 3-1 series hole to advance.
Following a 2-0 loss in Detroit in Game 4, which saw the Blackhawks lose three straight for the first time this season, Chicago took a 4-1 win at home in Game 5 then a 4-3 win in Game 6 to force Wednesday's deciding game.
"I commend the guys for their attitude," said Chicago head coach Joel Quenneville. "Their approach after Game 4 and the belief in the room and each other was there. It was a strong season and we had to find a way."
Patrick Sharp scored early in the second period while Corey Crawford turned away 26 shots for the Blackhawks.
The seventh-seeded Red Wings, meanwhile, failed in their bid to make the conference finals for the first time since 2009 and in their last season in the conference.
Due to the realignment, Detroit will play in the Eastern Conference next season so this could be the last time these two Original Six teams meet in the playoffs for quite some time.
Henrik Zetterberg netted the lone goal of the game while Howard turned away 33 shots in the loss for the Red Wings, who were in a Game 7 for the second time in the playoffs as the team went the distance against Anaheim in the quarterfinals.
"We came here expecting to win," said Detroit head coach Mike Babcock. "We had a good belief system in our group and felt that if we trusted one another and played our game we'd have a really good chance to win. I thought we showed that throughout the series."
The game almost didn't make it to overtime as Niklas Hjalmarsson blasted the puck into the net from the top of the left circle with 1:49 to play in regulation. However, the goal was waived off as Brandon Saad and Kyle Quincey were handed matching roughing minors behind the play for getting in a scrum in the neutral zone along the benches.
"It was so loud down there those last couple of minutes on the ice that you couldn't hear any of the whistles," said Howard. "It was one of those things and we were able to regroup and come back for overtime."
Detroit got the first power play of the game when Duncan Keith was called for tripping. Crawford, though, kept the puck out of the net after stopping a Damien Brunner left point shot and Johan Franzen's rebound chance down low.
Chicago had a pair of power plays later in the first, but was unable to cash in as Howard finished the frame with 13 stops and Crawford turned away 11.
The Hawks began the second on a power play that carried over from the first and were unable to score, but lit the lamp on Sharp's seventh of the playoffs at 1:08.
While Detroit was making a shift change, Chicago got the puck and went the other way. Sharp brought the puck into the zone and left a drop pass for Michal Handzus in the middle. Handzus then dished it over to the left where Marian Hossa fed it to the right and Sharp lifted it over Howard for a 1-0 lead.
Crawford had to make a tough save three minutes later when Cory Emmerton took a feed alone to the left of the net. Crawford, though, stopped the shot and controlled the rebound.
Patrick Kane had his shot blocked by Kronwall off a 2-on-1 break 5 1/2 minutes in and Detroit had to kill off a Justin Abdelkader penalty later in the frame.
Crawford again stood firm when Abdelkader fired a shot on net from the right side and Franzen tried to jam it in with under eight minutes to play in the second.
It took just 26 seconds for the Red Wings to tie the game in the third period. Johnny Oduya pinched up at the left point to try to get the puck out of his zone, but Daniel Cleary was able to chip it by him and Nyquist took over. Racing down the right wing, Nyquist fed it over to the slot where Zetterberg was all alone for the easy slam, his fourth of the playoffs.
Chicago is now 6-5 in Game 7s all-time, while Detroit fell to 14-9 ... This was the third Game 7 between these two clubs, with Chicago taking two and this one being the first since the Hawks won a semifinal matchup in 1965 ... The Blackhawks have won nine of the 16 playoff matches against the Red Wings ... Chicago has faced Los Angeles just once in the postseason, a five-game win in the 1974 quarterfinals ... Detroit's Valtteri Filppula left the game nearly four minutes in with a leg injury and didn't return ... Chicago is now 6-1 at home in the postseason ... Detroit went 0-for-2 on the power play as Chicago has killed off 40 of the 41 shorthanded situations it has faced in the postseason ... The goal was Seabrook's first of the playoffs ... Chicago went 0-for-4 on the power play.