The two best words in hockey: game seven. Two of these winner-take-all matchups will be happening tonight as the Leafs visit the Bruins and the Knights invade the Shark Tank. Playoff hockey is always a treat to watch, but as my Four Feathers co-panelist Tony Marchese always says, it’s at its best when the Blackhawks are involved.
Instead of sitting around feeling bummed out, I decided to take a look back at a pair of Blackhawks game sevens from the “Three in Six” run.
2013 Western Conference Semi-Finals vs. Detroit
This series was a whirlwind to say the least. The Hawks won the opener, but found themselves down 3-1 after Detroit found their game. After fighting off elimination with a 4-1 home win in game five, Michael Frolik’s successful penalty shot held up to be the game-winning goal in game six at Detroit.
I’ll use that GIF any time I get a chance. Just look at Pavel Datsyuk’s reaction on the bench. LOL. Anyway, on to the focus of this blog: game seven. The Hawks failed to convert on two first-period power plays, while the Wings whiffed on a chance of their own. Only a minute into the middle frame, the Blackhawks caught Detroit in the middle of a change and a beautiful passing play between Sharp, Handzus, Hossa, and then back to Sharp led to a beautiful goal. This was Sharpie’s SEVENTH goal of the playoffs.
The Hawks held that one-goal lead for the remainder of the second period, but Detroit came out swinging in the third as Henrik Zetterberg lit the lamp just 26 seconds in. A tie score in the final period of a winner-take-all game is as intense as it can get, right? Wrong. With just under two minutes remaining in regulation, Brandon Saad chipped the puck into the offensive zone and then got tied up in front of the Detroit bench with Kyle Quincey. Meanwhile, Shaw skated down to the right circle and dropped the puck back for a streaking Hjalmarsson entering the zone. Hammer drove a shot past the glove of Howard and the building erupted. The Hawks should have been up 2-1 with 1:47 remaining, right? Wrong. The official on the back end of the play skated into the scrum in front of the Detroit bench and called coincidental roughing minors on Quincey and Saad just before the goal was scored. Absolute garbage.
The Wings caught a huge break, and the Hawks got screwed over royally. However, no amount of arguing from the Chicago bench could change the call so the Hawks had no choice but to play on. Neither team found the back of the net in the remaining 1:47 of regulation so it was on to overtime.
Three and a half minutes into the extra frame, a big Dave Bolland hit along the boards sprung the puck free in the neutral zone. Seabrook picked it up at the red line, skated into the Detroit zone, worked into the high-slot area and fired a glorious wrister past Howard to win it.
Because the Hawks had to win this game twice, the amount of relief the entire city of Chicago felt after Seabrook’s goal cannot be described in words, so I’ll just leave his reaction here to sum it up.
Aside from ’17 Seconds’ in the Final, this was by far the most exhilarating moment of the Blackhawks 2013 Stanley Cup run. Speaking of Stanley Cup runs, it’s time to take a look at another game seven win that propelled the Hawks toward hockey glory.
2015 Western Confernce Final at Anaheim
Oh yes, the
mighty Ducks: Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, and who could forget Ryan “no human can withstand that many hits” Kesler. I’ll give them props though, they put up a damn good fight. This matchup was the definition of a back-and-forth series as no team had won two consecutive games going into the decisive game seven.
Jonathan Toews had no intention of letting this game turn into a nailbiter, as he asserted dominance early by scoring the only two goals of the opening frame. Captain Serious got the boys going when he slammed home a rebound off a Hjalmarsson shot just 2:23 into the game. His second tally came on the power play at the 11:55 mark when he fired a wicked wrister past the glove of Frederik Andersen. (Andersen now plays for Toronto, so hopefully he fares better in tonight’s game seven at Boston…)
In the second period, Brandon Saad found himself WIDE open on the back side of the play after an excellent Johnny Oduya pinch-in along the left-wing boards kept the puck alive for Patrick Kane, who put it right on the tape for #20 to bury the Hawks third goal of the night. Marian Hossa got in on the fun when he picked up the loose change on a Brad Richards stuff attempt at the 13:45 mark of the middle frame. Kesler got the Ducks on the board late in the period, but even then it felt like “too little, too late.”
Corey Perry scored for Anaheim 11:36 into the third period, but Brent Seabrook put the icing on the cake with a power play tally under two minutes later. Anaheim added a garbage time goal, but the celebration was already well underway back in Chicago. The Hawks were apparently superhuman as they withstood all of Anaheim’s checking en route to the Stanley Cup Final. Kick back and enjoy all the highlights from this one, I promise they won’t give you a heart attack like the previous game we discussed.
Of course all Blackhawks fans wish they were watching their favorite team in the playoffs right now. However, it’s important to look back on these moments and appreciate how much this team has given us over the years. Eleven teams have never hoisted Lord Stanley, and the Hawks got to do it three times in six years. That’s something to be proud of.
Anyway, enjoy both game sevens tonight. I can’t guarantee any of them will get as crazy as Hawks/Wings in 2013, but anything can happen in playoff hockey.
Featured Photo: Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images