All of the talk leading up to the Western Conference finals was about how the Detroit Red Wings were waiting for guys like Marian Hossa, Pavel Datsyuk and Tomas Holmstrom to step up and start scoring goals. However, in similar fashion to Game 1, it was the non first-liners coming up big for the Wings on the score sheet. This time the difference maker was Mikael Samuelsson, who scored the game winner 5:14 into overtime, giving the Wings a 3-2 win and a 2-0 series lead over the Chicago Blackhawks.
For the second straight game, it would be the Blackhawks striking first, as Jonathan Toews threw a shot through the crease that deflected of Jonathan Ericsson’s skate and into the net, giving the ‘Hawks a 1-0 lead. But much like Sunday’s game, the Wings had a quick answer, as Brian Rafalski wristed home a shot through traffic just under four minutes later to to tie the game at one.
The second period was another grinding, back-and-forth effort for both clubs, but one which saw Detroit create a few more scoring opportunities. Only the hot hand of Nikolai Khabibulin would keep the game tied throughout most of the second, but, just like in Game 1, his luck would eventually run out. Dan Cleary kept his scoring ways alive when he was able to break loose down the right boards and bury a breakaway shot between the legs of Khabibulin, giving the Wings a 2-1 lead.
Stellar netminding by both Khabibulin and Chris Osgood would keep the score the same throughout most of the third, until the ‘Hawks finally tied it back up at the 12:20 mark of the period. With the Wings players dealing with a long shift, Kris Versteeg received a one-time pass from Brian Campbell, and ripped a shot that was tipped in by Toews. Detroit would rally back late in the period to try and break the tie, but Khabibulin stood tall, making some key saves and even receiving some help from the post on a blast from Nicklas Lidstrom.
The excitement and intensity spilled over into the extra period, with Chicago having an excellent chance to win the game when a shot bounced high in the air and landed right in the crease in front of Osgood. Nobody was home to bat it in, and the puck was circled back up top to Campbell. As Campbell attempted to throw a cross ice pass, Samuelsson stepped in and broke it up, giving Jiri Hudler the chance to scoop up the puck and race down the ice in a three-on-one break. Hudler crossed into the zone, slipped a pass over to Valtteri Filppula, who then passed it back to Samuelsson in the slot for the game winning shot that beat Khabibulin to his stick side.
Chris’ Red Wing of the Game
Samuelsson did it all on the game winner. He broke up Brian Campbell’s intended pass, sprung Hudler and trailed the play all the way until he buried the puck in the back of the net. Bravo.
It’s now on to Chicago for Game 3, which takes place on Friday night at the United Center. The puck drops at 8:00 PM and you can catch the action on Versus.