CHICAGO | Overtime in Game 7, Blackhawks and Red Wings, amid controversy and a cascade of boos and garbage onto the United Center ice.
There couldn’t be a more fitting final act in the emotional series in which the Blackhawks stormed back from a 3-games-to-1 deficit on Brent Seabrook’s wrist shot almost four minutes into the extra period.
Their 2-1 victory Seabrook’s goal against Wings goalie Jimmy Howard 3:35 into the extra period will be historic in team annals. The score was more delicious capping the dramatic Western Conference semifinals series between Original Six archrivals.
“I didn’t realize how far back the ‘D’ was,” Seabrook said. “(Niklas) Kronwall is a great defenseman. He tried to get out there to block it. I just wanted to try to get it past him and on net.”
The Hawks have booked a date with the defending Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings in the Western Conference finals starting with Game 1 here at 4 p.m. Saturday.
They’ll need the two days off to decompress from the emotion of the Wings series and the anger and puzzlement of a Niklas Hjalmarsson goal that was disallowed with 1:47 to go.
Seconds earlier, across the ice, the Wings' Kyle Quincey and the Hawks' Brandon Saad smacked into each other, Saad falling to the ice. Each earned off-setting roughing penalties.
The whistle blew away from the action as Hjalmarsson’s shot went in. Momentary jubilation turned to despair and anger as stadium personnel raced to clean up the debris. Airplane-noise-level boos greeted the end of regulation time.
“I almost threw my stick into the crowd,” Hjalmarrson said. “I was mad.”
Saad couldn’t understand the call.
“I don’t really know what the call is or why he made it,” Saad said. “It’s his decision to make. It’s fortunate we got the win in overtime.”
Yet the Hawks “forgot about that” in the locker room prior to overtime, Seabrook said, and went back to the ice to set up his game-winner.
A series of crisp passes among Marian Hossa, Patrick Sharp and Michal Handzus resulted in a chip-shot goal from the right by Sharp early in the second period.
Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg tied it just 26 seconds into the third. He scored close-in from the left as Hawks goalie Corey Crawford leaned the other way to head off Dan Cleary, who passed to the open Zetterberg.