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Top Chicago Blackhawks Playoff Wins: One Night Only

By Colin Likas
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To this point, there is only one playoff series in which the Chicago Blackhawks under Joel Quenneville have won just a single game. Unfortunately, it was against the longtime rival Detroit Red Wings.

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Fortunately, it was at the very beginning of Q’s tenure and the start of the core’s run in Chicago. Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane were the two youngest players on the team at age 20. Others key players were young and inexperienced (Niklas Hjalmarsson was 21, Brent Seabrook 22, Duncan Keith 25). And Marian Hossa was playing for the opposition. Times sure were different.

But at least there was one bright spot in this series. And that’s the game we’re talking about today as our countdown of the top Blackhawks playoff wins under Q continues.

Note: Check out the previous entries in this series at the end of this post.

No. 44: 2009 Western Conference finals, Game 3

Chicago Blackhawks 4, Detroit Red Wings 3

Watching the above highlight package is kind of fascinating six-plus years later. You can see a lot of the current Blackhawks in these Red Wings, and you see a youthful, at time tentative Blackhawks squad trying to make a name for itself in the league.

They were certainly working hard on that in this game after falling 5-2 in Game 1 and 3-2 in overtime in Game 2 to start the series.

Fun thing about this game: It was featured on the old Versus network, which was a predecessor of sorts to NBC Sports Network (the only sports I can remember seeing on Versus were hockey, cycling and bull riding). But we still had good ol’ Doc Emrick and Eddie Olczyk calling the action, and they were in for … an interesting game.

The Blackhawks came out firing on all cylinders, clearly upset with being down 2-0 in the series and wanting to make a statement at the United Center. Marty Havlat didn’t get a point on the game’s first scoring play, but he deserved one. With Dan Cleary in the box for a double-minor penalty, Havlat secured the puck below Chris Osgood and carried it through traffic along the boards, setting up the entire play. He tapped the puck to Seabrook at the point, who fed it back to Havlat, who threw it cross-ice to Dave Bolland, who sent it back to Seabrook for a one-timer. Seabs’ bomb nicked the stick of Patrick Sharp in front and sent the puck past Osgood to put Chicago up 1-0 about nine minutes in.

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  • Olczyk noted right after the strike that it was the third straight game in which the Blackhawks had scored first. And yet they were down 0-2 in the series. Hockey is tough sometimes.

    But the Blackhawks didn’t want to make that 0-3, so they kept pressing. Bolland carried the puck through heavy traffic in the neutral zone and found Andrew Ladd coming down the wall to Osgood’s left. Ladd carried the puck onto the circle and fired a shot on Osgood, then followed his rebound and wrapped it around a sprawling Osgood to send Chicago up 2-0 only 1:05 after Sharp’s goal.

    If there was ever a chance for the Blackhawks to bury the Red Wings, it came in the form of a 5-minute powerplay later in the first after Niklas Kronwall picked up a game misconduct. One of the better chances during that man-advantage, however, came to Detroit on a wonky play. Brian Campbell skated the puck from behind the net to center ice, where he gave it to Kane. The forward was promptly tripped by Cleary at the blue line …

    The play to watch is happening at the bottom of the screen. (Screenshot from YouTube)

    and nothing was called, possibly because the Red Wings were down 2-0 and had 21 minutes of penalties to their name compared to the Blackhawks’ two. Or maybe it just wasn’t tripping …

    Nah, that’s tripping. (Screenshot from YouTube)

    As fans showed their displeasure over the lack of a penalty call, Henrik Zetterberg broke away from almost everyone on a semi-breakaway. A pretty strong backcheck by Sharp (which also could have resulted in a penalty) and a good save by Nikolai Khabibulin kept Detroit off the board.

    The Blackhawks after this realized they were the ones on the powerplay, and Kris Versteeg wound up with a pretty-much-empty net about 1:40 after Zetterberg’s chance. But Kirk Maltby dove in front of Versteeg’s shooting area and tipped the puck high over the net and out of play.

    (Side note: There’s an ad that pops up in the highlight video promoting The Hangover … the original The Hangover. It had yet to be released at the time of this game.)

    But the wild first period ended with Chicago up 2-0. It wouldn’t last long … in a good way. Less than a minute into the middle frame, Keith picked up a puck at the blue line board to Osgood’s right and fired a shot in the general vicinity of the net. Samuel (Sami) Pahlsson probably never had a more active game in the Indian Head, and he made the third goal happen here. Keith’s shot was heading well wide of Osgood, but Pahlsson showed great hand-eye coordination to put the puck on net, and it would trickle between Osgood’s legs to give the Blackhawks a 3-0 lead.

    Before the tip … (Screenshot from YouTube)

    After the tip. (Screenshot from YouTube)

    Unfortunately for the Blackhawks, they weren’t play the 2015 Ducks or another team that would essentially give up down three goals. The Red Wings started getting good chances toward the midway point of the second, though it would take until there were fewer than six minutes left in the period for the Red Wings to crack the scoresheet.

    Hossa showed the Blackhawks why they would pay for him after this season, stealing the puck from both Seabrook and Keith behind the net on a powerplay. He eventually found Nicklas Lidstrom at the point, and Lidstrom bombed a shot over Pahlsson’s skate and past everyone else to get Detroit rolling.

    With the Blackhawks on their heels a bit, the Red Wings kept pushing. Cleary was given wayyyyyy too much time behind the net while shadowed by Campbell and Hjalmarsson with less than three minutes to go in the second. Cleary was eventually allowed to break out and find Mikael Samuelsson along the boards, and he sent the puck to Brian Rafalski between the point and circles. His slapper went off — you guessed it — Cleary in front of Khabibulin and cut Chicago’s lead to one.

    The Red Wings weren’t about to wait for the third period to tie things up, though. Hossa found Brad Stuart at the blue line with the clock ticking below one minute. Stuart delayed, was given wayyyyyy too much time to find someone and did find Jonathan Ericsson for a slapper on net. Tomas Holmstrom expertly screened Khabibulin, who had no chance to stop Ericsson’s shot and keep the game from being tied.

    Someone give that man a lightsaber. (Screenshot from YouTube)

    The terrifying news for Blackhawks fans after this was that Q decided to go with Cristobal Huet in net for the rest of the game. Thankfully, he only saw six shots in 21:52. Part of that was because the third period was very tight, with neither team getting much going. So it was only fitting overtime would be over before the two-minute mark.

    The play that created the game-winning goal was a mess. Sharp attempted a wraparound on Osgood and was shut down by Lidstrom down low. While the two battled for the puck, Lidstrom’s stick more or less exploded, leaving the Red Wings with a stickless player. Sharp naturally won the puck and found Cam Barker at the blue line. He passed it to fellow defenseman Matt Walker above the circle to Osgood’s left, and Walker wired a shot toward the net.

    Dustin Byfuglien was in front attempting to provide a screen, but he couldn’t settle the puck. Luckily for Chicago, Pahlsson saw it the whole way and sent a backhander through traffic to Sharp on the doorstep. The handsome one had a pretty empty net to shoot at, and he didn’t miss. The Blackhawks would not be swept by the Red Wings, which was the best possible news at that point.

    Previous entries

    No. 45 | No. 46 | No. 47 | No. 48 | No. 49 | No. 50 | No. 51 | No. 52 | No. 53 | No. 54 | No. 55 | No. 56 | No. 57 | No. 58 | No. 59 | No. 60 | No. 61 | No. 62 | No. 63 | No. 64 | No. 65 | No. 66 | No. 67 | No. 68 | No. 69 | No. 70 | No. 71 | No. 72 | No. 73

    Next: What Will John McDonough Do?

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