If the Detroit Red Wings figured to cruise past the Blackhawks en route to another Stanley Cup championship, they now know they're in for a battle.
The Hawks put themselves back into the Western Conference finals series with a 4-3 overtime victory over the Wings in Game 3 on Friday night at the United Center. The win cut the Hawks' deficit in the series to 2-1 with Game 4 scheduled for Sunday afternoon at the UC.
Patrick Sharp's goal 1 minute 52 seconds into overtime -- his second of the game -- gave the Hawks a victory in a game in which both star winger Martin Havlat and goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin left with injuries.
Backup goalie Cristobal Huet, who hadn't played since April 11, entered in the third period in relief of Khabibulin and made six saves to earn the victory.
"I didn't have time to think really," Huet said. "I've been practicing a long time for that moment. I was anxious, but at the same time ready to help the team in any way I could."
The Hawks are now 3-1 in overtimes in the postseason, with all three victories at home.
"Three-zero against a team like that makes it very tough to come back," said Sharp, who fired in the game-winner off a pass from Sammy Pahlsson, who picked up a rebound with Dustin Byfuglien also battling in front of Wings goaltender Chris Osgood. "We feel good about this one. We realize we still have a long way to go.
"We're a pretty confident group. Our third period was one of the strongest we've played all playoffs."
The Hawks needed a big third after seeing the Wings score three times in a four-and-a-half-minute span late in the second to erase a 3-0 deficit.
Sharp and Andrew Ladd scored first-period goals to stake the Hawks to a 2-0 lead before Havlat was injured after a vicious hit by Wings defenseman Niklas Kronwall along the boards. The veteran stayed on the ice for several minutes before being helped into the dressing room.
Pahlsson's goal in the opening minute of the second gave the Hawks a 3-0 lead and had the capacity crowd of 22,678 in a frenzy. It stayed that way until Nicklas Lidstrom, Brian Rafalski and Jonathan Ericsson stunned the fans and the Hawks with an offensive explosion to finish the second.
After a scoreless third during which Huet made all six of his saves, Sharp finished things with his seventh goal of the postseason.
"The shift before had some great pressure [and] it felt like a scoring chance is coming," Sharp said. "Matt Walker was cruising around pretty good in the offensive zone making things happen. Sammy Pahlsson made a great pass to get a backdoor. I just wanted to make sure I hit the net."
The Hawks are 5-1 when scoring four or more goals in the playoffs and improved to 4-1 in one-goal games.
"If we're down 3-0 [in the series] it's as good as over," said Pahlsson, who scored his goal when he redirected a shot by Duncan Keith from inside the blue line. "It's a huge hole to climb out of, so 2-1 is a big difference. We really needed that win. Not only do we know we can beat them, we got one win and we have another home game coming up so we feel good about it."
Sharp opened the scoring midway through the first after he redirected a Brent Seabrook shot and Ladd made it 2-0 when he scored off a rebound of his own attempt 1:05 later.
The Hawks are now 5-1 when scoring four or more goals in the playoffs and improved to 4-1 in one-goal games.
Whether Havlat and Khabibulin -- who left with a lower body injury -- will be healthy enough for Game 4 is not yet known.Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times