Bryan Bickell scored the go-ahead goal early in the third period as the Chicago Blackhawks won 4-3 at Detroit on Monday to avoid elimination in the National Hockey League playoffs.
The Blackhawks knotted the best-of-seven Western Conference second-round series at 3-3 to force a Game 7 showdown today in Chicago.
Detroit or Chicago are to face either defending champions Los Angeles or San Jose, whose own Game 7 showdown was yesterday, in the Western Conference final. The West winner is to face Boston or Pittsburgh in the Stanley Cup Final.
The Red Wings’ led 2-1 entering the third period, but the visiting Blackhawks scored three times in the first 10 minutes, 17 seconds of the final session to seize command and stun a Detroit crowd that hoped to see the hosts advance with a victory.
“Relentless. We never give up,” Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews said. “We hung in there. We just needed that one goal. Everybody responded top to bottom.”
Chicago equalized at 2-2 only 51 seconds into the third period on the first goal of the playoffs for Slovakian center Michal Handzus.
The Blackhawks took the lead when Bickell, a Canadian left wing, took a rebound off the right skate of Red Wings goaltender Jimmy Howard and fired it into the back of the net for his fifth goal of the playoffs with 14:12 to play.
Chicago’s Michael Frolik was fouled on a breakaway opportunity and the Czech right wing was awarded a penalty shot.
He made the most of his second chance by firing a backhand shot past Howard to give the Blackhawks a 4-2 lead with 9:43 remaining.
“You get emotional when you are down a goal, and your back is against the wall and it’s do or die,” Toews said. “We have a special group. We don’t want to pass that [title chance] up so we came out and did that in the third.”
Detroit pulled Howard for an extra attacker in the dying seconds and the move paid off when Swiss center Damien Brunner scored on a slap-shot with 52 seconds remaining, pulling the Red Wings within the final margin.
However, the Red Wings could not make the magic happen again, a last desperation shot by Brunner being deflected wide of the goal at the final horn.
The Red Wings took a 2-1 lead 10:11 into the second period on a goal by Swedish center Joakim Andersson, who fired a wobbly shot into the air. The puck flipped sideways and eluded Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford.
Chicago opened the scoring on Marian Hossa’s backhand power-play goal just 3:53 into the game, the fifth playoff goal for the Slovakian right wing.
Detroit equalized on a goal by Canadian right wing Patrick Eaves that came with only 69 seconds remaining in the first period.