Marian Hossa has admitted more than once that he wasn't himself during the middle of the season.
All that was forgotten Monday night when Hossa scored one of the biggest goals of the year for the Blackhawks in overtime at Joe Louis Arena.
Hossa was the best player on the ice even before his power-play goal 51 seconds into overtime gave the Hawks a much-needed 3-2 win over the Red Wings.
The Hawks played desperate hockey after Saturday's bitter loss to Anaheim on home ice. The victory gave them 90 points and, most important, put them 3 points ahead of Calgary and 4 in front of Dallas -- the two teams that started the night directly behind them in the Western Conference standings.
"I know I wasn't good enough earlier in some stretches, but right now I feel like myself and I'm confident and have tempo," Hossa said after ripping a shot high over Detroit goalie Joey MacDonald during a 4-on-3 power play.
"We knew we needed these 2 points after (losing to Anaheim). It was so important, and we found a way to win."
The Hawks earned the power play to start overtime after Patrick Kane outworked Henrik Zetterberg and was hooked with four seconds remaining in regulation.
Kane then made the pass to Hossa for the game-winner.
"None bigger all year," Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said of the victory. "That was a huge win for us coming off a very disappointing loss. It was a playoff game for us."
It wasn't only Hossa rising to the occasion. The Hawks got contributions up and down the lineup in front of goalie Corey Crawford, who was big again with 33 saves to post his 30th victory of the season.
"It's been a tough battle lately, but we're not going anywhere without a fight," captain Jonathan Toews said. "We need points every single night."
Toews got the Hawks started in the right direction with his 31st goal 2:55 into the first period.
After Nicklas Lidstrom tied it at 1-1, the Hawks went back ahead on Brent Seabrook's power-play goal at 13:18 of the first period set up by Kane. Zetterberg's power-play goal early in the third period off the skate of Hawks defenseman Chris Campoli made it 2-2.
Quenneville juggled his lines before and during the game. He put struggling Troy Brouwer on the first line with Toews and Kane, and it was Brouwer's shot that Toews rebounded into the net.
Hossa was double shifted much of the night and led all Hawks forwards with 23:52 of ice time to go with his goal and assist. Hossa took shifts with Marcus Kruger and Bryan Bickell, and with Tomas Kopecky.
"He was real good tonight," Zetterberg said. "It didn't surprise me he scored the winner."
Quenneville got a big effort from the fourth line of Ryan Johnson, Viktor Stalberg and Fernando Pisani.
The Hawks outshot Detroit 41-35 and could have blown it open if not for the strong play of MacDonald, who was filling in for injured Red Wings goalies Jimmy Howard and Chris Osgood.
Detroit played basically a man short after winger Todd Bertuzzi was given a five-minute major penalty and game misconduct at 5:17 of the first period for elbowing Johnson in the head along the boards.
Johnson, who left the game briefly to have part of his ear sewn back in place, said Bertuzzi came to the Hawks' dressing room and said he was sorry for the high hit.
"He was very apologetic," Johnson said. "It ripped my ear and skin so they had to sew my ear back. I didn't think it was malicious or anything."