By Jon Fromi
The Chicago Blackhawks completed a comeback for the ages Wednesday night, lasting through a tease of the winning goal in the final minutes. Brent Seabrook ended Chicago’s Western Conference semifinal with the Detroit Red Wings in the fourth minute of overtime, giving the ‘Hawks a 2-1 victory.
Full disclosure, folks. Due to a work commitment I made three years ago (see how careful planning pays off?) I was about 500 miles away from my usual seat in front of my television when the puck dropped at United Center Wednesday night.
So…instead of taking in the culmination of a classic series, I was in a theater watching people contort their bodies in ways that would absolutely finish off Dave Bolland’s back. As I have another full day of Missouri wonders to take in, this is what I surmised while I was supposed to be asleep.
After a scoreless first period in which both teams were sent away from great scoring opportunities by Jimmy Howard and Corey Crawford, the Blackhawks drew first blood early in the middle 20.
Niklas Hjalmarsson (who got hosed of an assist due to the fancy work that followed) chased down a Henrik Zetterberg clearing attempt in the second minute and sent a pass across the ice to Patrick Sharp, who was just coming into the Red Wings’ zone. Sharp worked a three man clinic with Michal Handzus and Marian Hossa, getting the puck back near the right post and hitting what I thought was a pretty tough angle to complete a great play and making it 1-0 just 1:08 into the second period.
Howard denied several odd-man rushes to keep his team in the game, which Detroit would even up seconds into the final period. After Johnny Oduya’s attempt at the Chicago blueline to send the puck out of the zone failed, Gustav Nyquist brought the puck along the boards on the right side and toward Crawford. Nyquist hit a wide-open Zetterberg on the other side, and the Red Wings captain didn’t miss the wide open net the pass created. Just 26 ticks into the period, Detroit and Chicago were all square.
Inside of two minutes to play, Brandon Saad got the puck away from Kyle Quincy in front of the Detroit bench. Andrew Shaw kept the puck from leaving the offensive zone and found Hjalmarsson in the high slot. The shot was true and the full house at the U.C. rejoiced until it was apparent that Quincey had mauled Saad back where the play started.
Double roughings were called on Quincey and Saad (why Saad was whistled is not yet apparent to me) and the game was headed to OT.
The game winner after Dave Bolland separated Nyquist from the puck along the boards near the red line. Seabrook collected the puck, skated it into the Detroit zone and seemed to send a completely stoppable snap shot towards Howard.
The puck then seemed to glance off of Niklas Kronwall, dramatically (was there any other way in this series?) altering the trajectory of the shot. The puck tumbled over Howard’s glove and into the Promised Land.
Thoughts (not many, as I have to get on a bus):
-Hjalmarsson was some fancy passing and a wonky call from being the hero of all heroes in this game. He was the catalyst of the first goal and closed in to knock home what could have been the game-winner.
-Any word as to Quenneville getting Ray Emery that start any time soon? Didn’t think so. Bring on the Kings.