VANCOUVER, British Columbia — There will be no Stanley Cup parade down Michigan Avenue this season.
But that doesn't mean the Blackhawks still don't possess the heart of a champion.
In a deciding Game 7 of an extraordinary first-round playoff series with the Vancouver Canucks, the Hawks fell short Tuesday night, losing 2-1 in overtime at Rogers Arena.
Alex Burrows intercepted a clearing attempt by defenseman Chris Campoli, walked into the mid-slot and blew a slap shot past goalie Corey Crawford at 5:22 to send the Canucks to the second round and the Hawks packing for the summer.
All this after captain Jonathan Toews, the Hawk with the biggest heart, tied the game with a short-handed goal from his knees with 1:56 left in regulation.
“The play he made on the tying goal, not a lot of guys in the league can do that,” Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo said. “That's why he won the Conn Smythe, the MVP of the Olympics. It was a massive play by him short-handed, and that's why he's the leader of that team.”
Campoli, tears welling in his eyes, was a stand-up guy in the dressing room after the crushing loss.
“I just wanted to get it out and I didn't get it out,” Campoli said. “I didn't get it over him and he made a play. Those are the kind of turnovers you can't have. It cost us the game. I made the play, not him.”
Sensational. Magnificent. Spectacular. Pick any one of them and it describes the play of Crawford in a Game 7 performance that won't soon be forgotten despite the outcome.
Crawford made 34 saves in regulation, one of them on Burrow's penalty shot early in the third period.
“One of the greatest goaltending performances in a clutch situation that you're going to see,” Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said.
Did the best team win this series? That's debatable. The Hawks fully believed they could repeat as Stanley Cup champions had they got past the Canucks, but in the end playing poorly while dropping the first three games did them in.
“It doesn't matter what you say, it's so disappointing,” Toews said. “Who knows how far they're going to go or how far we would have gone if we won this game. It's a tough one to swallow.”
The Hawks looked to be done after Duncan Keith took a penalty with 3:17 to play, but Toews scored on a Marian Hossa from his knees in front of Luongo.
Toews split two defenders, got the puck to Hossa and scored despite getting knocked down.
The Hawks got the only power play in overtime and it took a great save by Luongo on a Patrick Sharp one-timer to keep the game going.
“You kick yourself about the opportunities you missed,” Toews said.
Playing perhaps the game of his life meant little to Crawford as he sat slumped in his locker stall.
“It's tough to lose in overtime,” Crawford said. “When you're a goalie and you give up a goal in overtime like that it's hard to take. I wasn't really thinking about all the saves or anything like that.”
Luongo was solid at the other end from Crawford with 31 saves. Luongo was looking to prove wrong those critics who have said he can't win when it counted in the playoffs.
“He's pretty sick and tired of everybody questioning him and having to answer all the speculation and proving himself all the time when he's been one of the best goalies the past 10 years,” Canucks backup goalie Cory Schneider said before the game.
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