Blackhawks right back in it after 4-3 OT win
On a night that had total disaster written all over it, the resilient Blackhawks found a way to produce more magic.
Not only did the Hawks blow a 3-0 lead in the second period Friday at the United Center, they lost stars Martin Havlat and Nikolai Khabibulin to injuries in Game 3 of the Western Conference finals.
But with their playoff lives hanging in the balance, the Hawks regrouped and beat the Detroit Red Wings 4-3 in overtime on Patrick Sharp's goal at 1:52.
The Hawks still trail the best-of-seven series 2-1 with Game 4 back at the UC on Sunday afternoon.
"Our season was on the line," Sharp said. "It was tough to lose a 3-goal lead in the second period, but we knew carrying any negativity into third period wasn't going to help us, and we played one of our strongest periods of the playoffs."
The winning goal was pure teamwork.
Matt Walker's shot from the right side went into traffic Dustin Byfuglien created in front of Red Wings goalie Chris Osgood. The puck squired free to Sammy Pahlsson, who fed Sharp on the left side with the net wide open.
"Matt Walker was cruising around in zone pretty good making things happen," Sharp said. "Sammy made a great pass backdoor and I just wanted to hit the net."
Havlat was knocked cold by a hit from Niklas Kronwall at 13:08 of the first period that earned the Red Wings defenseman a major penalty and game misconduct.
"He looked better after the game," Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "We'll call it day-to-day."
Khabibulin didn't come out to start the third period, replaced by Cristobal Huet, who hadn't played since April 11 in the next-to-last game of the regular season.
Quenneville called Khabibulin's injury a lower body problem.
"We'll see how he presents himself (today)," Quenneville said.
Corey Crawford was called down out of the press box to dress as the backup for the third period.
Huet faced only 6 shots in a scoreless third period.
"It was great to come in and help the team," Huet said. "I was prepared."
The 3-0 lead evaporated in the final six minutes of the second period as the Red Wings shifted into another gear and took advantage of some sloppy and timid play by the Hawks in their own end.
"We kind of got running around there on some of their goals," Duncan Keith said. "We were out of position and they were getting chances, but we talked about not panicking and stuck with the game plan and it worked out."
The Hawks had no answer for Tomas Holmstrom in front of the net on 2 of the 3 goals Detroit scored late in the second by Nicklas Lidstrom and Jonathan Ericsson.
After Pahlsson's tip-in 45 seconds into the second period made it 3-0, the momentum changed when the Hawks took three straight penalties by Niklas Hjalmarsson, Brent Seabrook and Dave Bolland.
Sensing blood, the Red Wings swarmed the Hawks.
"Whey they come, they come, especially when they're down," Quenneville said.
The Hawks led 2-0 on first-period goals 65 seconds apart by Sharp and Andrew Ladd when Kronwall got the major penalty against Havlat, but the Hawks couldn't make the Red Wings pay on the resulting five-minute power play.