Blackhawks even the series with hard work and some good luck

Blackhawks even the series with hard work and some good luck

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

To survive in the NHL during the post season teams need to play well and also need some good fortune. In a 4-3 victory over Detroit the Blackhawks benefited from strong play and some old-fashioned good luck. The Hawks had their backs to the wall once again and found a way to get the series to a Game 7 showdown.

It was a night where two Hawks that always seem to work hard but don't get much ink were big contributors to the victory. Michal Frolik and Marcus Kruger were among the top forwards and Jonathan Toews as well as Marian Hossa played at a high level. The Detroit third line outplayed their counterparts but a former third line player for the Hawks, Bryan Bickell, had an impact once again.

Corey Crawford, whose stats put him near the top of goaltenders in the playoffs, ended up having a fine game but it could have been ugly.

Crawford looked to be tentative with his glove hand as he allowed a bad goal that could have lost the game for Chicago. To Crawford's credit he regrouped from his second period miscue and shined for the rest of the night. Fortunately his teammates also had the determination to rally and come away with a needed victory. After performing so well in the post season it would have been a shame for Crawford to end up as the goat.

In the opening 15 minutes, the Blackhawks kept the game simple and were very efficient. Detroit was chasing for much of the period as Chicago had the puck in the offensive zone. The Red Wings made the first big mistake of the game as Jakub Kindl took a rather careless interference penalty. It later resulted in Hossa jamming in a power play goal and a 1-0 lead.

The Red Wings looked to be overmatched but then put on a big push in the final five minutes of the opening frame. The Hawks seemed to be back on their heels and Detroit scored on a rebound to tie the score in the final minute.

The Blackhawks came out with a determined effort to begin the second period but it was Detroit who benefited from some good fortune.

Joakim Andersson sent a 40-foot shot that fluttered to the net and Crawford completely whiffed on the attempted catch. The soft goal came at the 10:11 mark and for the remainder of the period the Red Wings took control.

It appeared Crawford's flub sent his club into a tail spin as the more experienced Blackhawks were outworked by Detroit. That was the case until the third period, when some desperation was apparent and benefiting from some luck also helped.

Michal Handzus was left wide open in front of the net and perfectly placed a shot just inside the far post to beat Jimmy Howard to tie the score. Niklas Hjalmarsson, who played a great game, made the play happen with an aggressive pinch along the boards. Hjalmarsson kept the puck away from Detroit as their defenseman Brendan Smith over-committed and left Handzus wide open.

The Blackhawks had recaptured the momentum and now the inexperience of the Red Wings began to show.

Detroit mistakes happened but to the credit of the Blackhawks they took advantage of their opportunities. The Red Wings had many giveaways on the night and that was a big reason why there will be a Game 7 on Wednesday.

The Hawks took the lead on another defensive miscue by Smith, from hard work along the boards by Hossa and Toews plus some luck. The Hawks won a puck battle along the boards as Bickell got position in front of Howard and buried a loose puck into the net. It also didn't help that Detroit's Kyle Quincey broke his stick during the same sequence.

The hockey gods weren't done smiling on the Blackhawks as Frolik was awarded a penalty shot. Carlo Colaiacovo hesitated to shoot a puck from the point and then Frolik blocked the shot and was off on a breakaway. Colaiacovo was chasing and slashed Frolik's hands as his shot attempt went off target.

It was a slashing penalty but not often does the same type of infraction get called a penalty shot. The referee was in perfect position but it was a surprising decision especially in a playoff game. Frolik made no mistake on the shot and buried a nifty backhander for what resulted in the game winner at 9:43.

As Game 7 approaches the Blackhawks have all the momentum. They also have a core of recent Cup winners that should be able to come together in a pressure situation and find a way to win. Howard has played well but his performances have slipped from earlier in the series.

Brent Seabrook has rebounded nicely the last two games. Johnny Oduya and Hjalmarsson were the top performers in Game 6. Duncan Keith could play better and Michal Rozsival had a bad night. As a group the Chicago defense did well and they need to be a difference maker in Game 7. The Detroit defenders don't have the depth or skill and the Hawks must continue to pressure them.

Some of the Chicago forwards must dial it up a notch for Game 7 so the Hawks have the best chance for success.

Monday night Patrick Kane seemed to be getting frustrated, Patrick Sharp, Andrew Shaw and Viktor Stalberg were not noticeable. Dave Bolland was invisible on many of his shifts and has been relegated to the fourth line. The Hawks have to be aware when the Red Wings use their third line and Shaw's group has to be better.

The Blackhawks did not have the same complete game effort as in Game 5. They can play better than they did on Monday and may have to for a Game 7 victory.

Every Hawk goal came from close in, there was nothing pretty about any of them except the penalty shot goal. On home ice the Blackhawks sometimes look to be too cute and try to make the extra pass. What will work best is to play a more simple game based on hard work on every shift.

Playing north and south and getting to the net should be the focus for Game 7. That was the way the Hawks came out in Game 6 but couldn't sustain the effort. The Red Wings have to be less than confident at this point but Mike Babcock will have them ready.

The Blackhawks worked hard all year so they could have the home ice advantage in Game 7. The Hawks best game is better than the Red Wings but it will be a test of will whether they can show the needed resolve.

No matter whether there is poor officiating, a bad bounce or a soft goal, no excuses will be allowed. Anything less than a Game 7 win will be a terrible way to end a great season.

I will be back on Thursday and you can follow me on Twitter @AlCimaglia.

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