It took quite awhile for the Blackhawks and the Canadiens to really kick it in Wednesday night at the United Center -- about 50 minutes or so to be exact -- but when the two Original Six teams finally found their groove, it proved well worth the wait.
"It was just a cat-and-mouse type game," defenseman Duncan Keith said. "It seemed like nobody dominated play and then you definitely noticed the intensity pick up the last 10 minutes of the third -- by both sides -- and luckily we were able to come out on top."
Marian Hossa tied the game with 48 seconds remaining in regulation, and Patrick Sharp scored just 43 seconds into overtime to cap a thrilling 3-2 come-from-behind victory that again leaves the Hawks 2 points behind the Avalanche in the race for home-ice advantage.
Their fourth consecutive victory also was the Hawks' first overtime win of the season -- quite a difficult stat to fathom.
"Well, I think we were due," Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "It was the first time all year we've scored an overtime goal in 20-something games, 20-something opportunities. To take this long to get one is certainly a relief, and it's a huge 2 points for us.
"It was a nice comeback as well."
Indeed, because for the longest time Wednesday it looked like the Hawks would go out with a whimper in their final regular-season home game.
That's because all the stir caused by rookie Jeremy Morin's game-tying goal at 10:34 of the third produced was erased in exactly 22 seconds when Francis Bouillon's blast from the point beat Corey Crawford.
But then something clicked in for the Hawks, and it was quite a sight to behold.
"Those last eight minutes were unbelievable -- we were buzzing around and it just felt like we were going to score there soon," said Crawford, who stopped 28 of the 30 shots he faced.
He was right, but it took until inside the final minute for the Hawks to even have a shot at going for the win. With 59 seconds left, Quenneville used his timeout, pulled Crawford, and sent out what would be a most productive half-dozen players.
"The timeout put (Michal) Handzus out there for the draw and got it back and made a great play behind the net over to Sharp and then to Hoss," Quenneville said. "Bingo-bango, and it was a nice finish."
And it capped a big night for Hossa, who picked up his 27th goal to go with assist No. 30.
"Another great game for Hoss," Sharp said. "He's a force out there. You can give him a bad pass or a bouncing puck and he's going to fend off guys and keep the play alive."
Add a Sharp goal 43 seconds into OT and bingo-bango, game over.
"That just shows how quick a game can turn," Canadiens defenseman Josh Gorges said. "I think we can learn a lot from this game because we played a good game, but good is not always good enough."