Blackhawks hold off Red Wings, take Game 3 in OT
The Chicago Blackhawks climbed back into their Western Conference final series with a 4-3 win in overtime against the visiting Detroit Red Wings in Game 3 on Friday.
Having squandered a 3-0 lead in the dying minutes of the second period, the Blackhawks found their hero in the form of Patrick Sharp, who scored his second goal of the game 1:52 into sudden death on a rebound chance at the side of the net.
"Osgood is a good goaltender. I've scored a few from that backdoor and wasn't missing that one," Sharp said.
"There was a shot from the point and a battle over it, and Sharp hammered it home," Detroit's Brian Rafalski said. "In a scrum like that, it was a nice play."
Following the Game 3 win, there will be major questions surrounding the status of two Blackhawks stars, Nikolai Khabibulin and Martin Havlat, for Game 4.
Khabibulin was taken out in favour of Cristobal Huet to start the third period and did not return to the bench after his substitution, while Havlat had to be helped off the ice in the first period after suffering a hit to the head early by the Red Wings' Niklas Kronwall.
Penalties put Red Wings in early hole
The Red Wings were guilty of cutting ruts to the penalty box in the first period, as they spent the majority of the opening frame shorthanded and the Blackhawks jumped out to a two-goal lead before the halfway point of the period.
Chicago opened the scoring on a power play, as the Red Wings' Dan Cleary took a double minor for a high-stick on Chicago captain Jonathan Toews in front of the Detroit net 6:35 in.
Halfway through the penalty, Chicago struck when Patrick Sharp, perfectly positioned in front of Detroit goalie Chris Osgood, made it almost impossible for the goalie to see Brent Seabrook's slapper from the point until it went off Sharp's stick and in the back of the net.
A minute and five seconds later, Andrew Ladd put a low shot into the feet of Osgood and crammed his own rebound over the line for the quick 2-0 lead.
Havlat levelled by Kronwall
Both teams lost important players 13 minutes into the game after Detroit defenceman Kronwall levelled a devastating hit on Chicago's Havlat.
A strong shoulder to the head crushed Havlat, who was searching for the puck in his feet as he tried to exit the Blackhawks' zone. The Chicago forward appeared to be knocked unconscious, as he laid motionless as the Blackhawks' trainer attended to him.
Kronwall was sent off with a five-minute major for interference and a game misconduct for the hit that put the Red Wings on the penalty kill once again.
The first chance on the major was actually Detroit's, as Zetterberg raced ahead of a pack of Chicago players for a short breakaway chance that was turned away by Nikolai Khabibulin toe save.
Kris Versteeg came the closest to making it a first-period three-goal lead with about half of the Kronwall power play remaining. The Chicago rookie was left uncovered at the side of the net with an open cage but misfired after taking a backpass by Troy Brouwer from the slot.
Fresh off the Kronwall penalty kill, the Red Wings drew another penalty that would continue into the second period and more prominently made it 11 minutes of time on the penalty kill in the first 20 minutes of the game.
The Blackhawks' Sami Pahlsson made it a 3-0 lead just 45 seconds into the middle frame as he re-directed a Duncan Keith shot from the blueline that caught Osgood off guard.
Detroit picks apart Bulin Wall, Chicago lead
The "Bulin Wall" had to live up to his moniker in the second period as his teammates got into some penalty trouble of their own, racking up three consecutive minors - but it's hard to stop what you don't see.
With five minutes left in the period, the Red Wings rallied to dismantle the Chicago lead starting with Detroit's captain Nicklas Lidstrom's point shot that deflected off of Pahlsson's skate and past his screened goalie to make it 3-1.
Two more shots from Red Wings' defenders and it was a tie game heading into the third period.
With under three minutes to go in the second, Dan Cleary parked himself in front of Khabibulin to screen a five-hole shot by Brian Rafalski to bring Detroit within one. Next up was Jonathan Ericsson, who roofed it past Khabibulin with a Tomas Holmstrom providing the screen and tip that silenced the once raucous Chicago crowd.
Huet summoned for Chicago
Cristobal Huet was tapped by Chicago coach Joel Quenneville to start the third period and saw his first action of the 2009 playoffs. Khabibulin was absent from the crease but also absent from the bench as Corey Crawford was dressed as Huet's backup.
"I didn't have time to think really," Huet said. "I've been practising a long time for that moment. I was anxious but at the same time ready to help the team in any way I could."
Khabibulin finished with 21 saves on 24 shots.
It was back and forth action for most of the third, but Huet and Osgood both made six stops each to send their respective teams into overtime.
"A lot of teams probably would have gone the other way after giving up a three-goal lead, but we stayed with it," Sharp said. "After they scored the third one, we played some of our best hockey. When we needed to play our best period of the season we did and carried it into overtime."
Ladd had the first good chance of the extra period, just 20 seconds in that was turned away by Osgood but the Blackhawks would not be denied a minute and a half later when Sharp buried a rebound chance to seal the win in sudden death.
The Blackhawks now have the opportunity to tie the series at two games apiece when they host the Red Wings for Game 4 on Sunday (CBC, CBCSports.ca, 3 p.m.)
With files from the Associated Press