There is always a little extra excitement in the United Center when the rival Detroit Red Wings are in town, but a opportunity to sweep the season series and clinch the division title had everyone on the edge of their seats tonight. Another late comeback lead by the captain Jonathan Toews and sweet shoot out goal by the potential rookie of the year, Brandon Saad capped of the wild night for the Chicago Blackhawks at the Madhouse.
Having great success against the Wings this year, Corey Crawford got his first start in over a week for the Hawks and did not disappoint. With the playoffs quickly approaching, Crawford needed a big night to secure the goaltending job for the playoffs. A 29 save performance and a great shoot out definitely helped Crawford’s cause.
The Blackhawks got the scoring started off in this one. After a scoreless first period, Viktor Stalberg was able to beat Jimmy Howard on a wrap around in the second. Howard appeared to lose sight of the puck and had no chance to stop Stalberg. But the rest of the period would belong to the Red Wings. Johan Franzen was able to tie the game up on the power play with just five minutes remaining in the second. It was the first power play goal the Hawks penalty kill gave up in 21 straight chances. Minutes later, the Wings got a fortunate bounce and Cory Emmerton beat Crawford top shelf to give his team their first lead of the game.
It was not looking good for the Hawks as the trailed for most of the third period. Sound defense and great goaltending by the Red Wings was the story of a lot of this game. With time ticking down to under three minutes, the Hawks finally got their chance. Johnny Oduya fired a shot on net and Toews found a lose puck in front of the net to tie the game at two. Bryan Bickell had a golden chance tow in the game in the last minute of the third but shot just wide and hit the goal post.
The game would eventually head to overtime, where the Hawks were able to get the second point. With the shoot out on the line, Marian Hossa blasted a shot past Howard to keep the game alive. Two rounds later, Saad beautifully stick handled past Howard and scored top shelf. Crawford then shut the door to give the Hawks the victory.
The Hawks now look to wrap up the number one seed in the West. They currently hold a seven point lead over the Anaheim Ducks for first and have a game in hand. As for the Red Wings, they now find themselves in a dog fight for the final playoff spot. Detroit has not missed the playoffs since the early 90’s so something to keep an eye on as the that streak could be snapped.
What’s Next: Blackhawks take on the Blues in St. Louis Sunday afternoon at 11:35 A.M. I would expect to see Crawford in net again.