The Chicago Blackhawks defeated the Detroit Red Wings 2-1 in overtime in Game 7 to win the best of seven series 4-3. The Blackhawks advance to the Western Conference Finals where they will host the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday afternoon in Game 1.
The first period would feature a lot of nervous action between the two teams as they were feeling each other out. Both teams had several scoring chances but the brilliant goaltending of Corey Crawford and Jimmy Howard kept the game in a scoreless tie. The Blackhawks had a slight 13-11 edge in shots heading into the locker room.
The Blackhawks would strike early in the second period when they caught Detroit on a bad line change. A 3 on 1 ensued and Michal Handzus passed to Marian Hossa who passed across the slot to Patrick Sharp who fired home a shot from a tight angle that Howard had no chance on at 1:08. The Blackhawks would play a really good second period but Howard was outstanding and stopped Brandon Saad, Patrick Kane and Sharp to prevent the lead from being extended. The Blackhawks would take a 1-0 lead into the second period while enjoying a 24-17 edge in shots on goal.
The Red Wings would get even very quickly in the third period. Johnny Oduya tried to pinch out of his defensive zone and got caught. Gustav Nyquist found Henrik Zetterberg on a 2 on 1 in front of the net for a tap in as Crawford was stuck on the post 26 seconds into the period. The next eight minutes found the Blackhawks under siege but Crawford stood strong keeping the game tied. The Blackhawks started to surge in the final third of the period and appeared to have won the game with 1:47 left when Niklas Hjalmarsson unleashed a slap shot past Howard. However, the goal was waved off when Brandon Saad was called for a coincidental minor for a phantom penalty. The referee appeared to call him for maybe a shove/punch after he was thrown into the bench and then down on the ice by Kyle Quincy. With no goal, the series would see its first overtime in Game 7.
In overtime, Crawford had to stand strong once or twice with a flurry of traffic in front of him. After an icing Dave Bolland won a faceoff over Zetterberg. After delivering a hard check in the neutral zone, Brent Seabrook entered the offensive zone with the puck. He fired a wrist shot that went off the stick of Niklas Kronwall and fluttered over the shoulder of Jimmy Howard for the series winner at 3:35.
What it means
The Blackhawks win the final game between the two teams as Western Conference opponents. Detroit is off to the Eastern Conference next year. The Blackhawks came back from down 3-1 in a series for the first time ever in franchise history. The Blackhawks will take on the Los Angeles Kings in the Western Conference Finals that will start on Saturday with a back and back. In the season series the Blackhawks won 2 of 3 games.
3 stars of the game
3. Jimmy Howard- Howard had a phenomenal series for the Red Wings and he bounced back after giving up 4 goals in back to back games. Howard kept the Red Wings in the game as he stopped several high quality scoring chances in the second period to prevent the game from getting out of hand. He had bad luck when the puck went off of Kronwall to end the series but made 33 saves on 35 shots.
2. Corey Crawford- Is there anyone who had more to prove than Crawford? He bounced back after allowing a bad goal in Game 6 to play 4 great periods. He was huge in the third period after the quick goal with a typical saving the Blackhawks hides when they were playing poorly. Crawford made 26 saves on 27 shots and won his first career Game 7. Crawford is now 1-1 in Game 7’s in his career.
1. Brent Seabrook– Seabrook was in the doghouse of Joel Quenneville after Game 4 when he played 12 minutes. Seabrook was great from Game 5 and on when he was reunited with Duncan Keith. It was fitting that Seabrook scored the game winner to end the series. Seabrook had one goal and was a plus one on the night. It was a busy night for Seabrook as he was on the ice for 26:13 and delivered 6 hits.