The Blackhawks are determined to take this thing down to the wire.
With their postseason lives hanging by a thread, the Hawks raced to a three-goal lead in the first period Wednesday night and defeated the Detroit Red Wings 6-2 before a capacity crowd of 21,365 at the United Center in a game played with the emotion and intensity of a playoff match.
St. Louis Blues to defeat the Predators on Thursday night in Nashville to stave off elimination for another day.
The Hawks took a 1-0 lead when Cam Barker fired a slap shot over the glove shoulder of Wings goalie Dominik Hasek while on the power play. Barker's sixth goal of the season, scored at the 5-minute-53-second mark of the first, came while former Hawk Chris Chelios was in the penalty box for cross-checking Patrick Kane.
Defenseman Jordan Hendry's first career goal 43 seconds later made it 2-0. Dave Bolland won a face-off straight to Hendry who fired a wrist shot past Hasek from the top of the left circle.
"It feels amazing," Hendry said. "I know Bolland's good at draws and he just pulled it straight back so I tried to get the shot low past the wing coming out on me and it happened to go in. I'm real happy. We're in a playoff hunt right now so it means that much more."
Former Wings Robert Lang and Jason Williams combined forces to give the Hawks a 3-0 lead at 7:52. Williams sent a cross-ice pass to Lang who beat Hasek for his 21st goal of the season.
"It was big to get out to that lead, 3-0," Kane said. "It's tough for any team to come back, even Detroit."
That sent Hasek to the bench as Red Wings coach Mike Babcock pulled the veteran in favor of Chris Osgood.
The Red Wings cut the lead to 3-1 on Henrik Zetterberg's goal at 14:20 while Detroit had a man advantage. Zetterberg fired a slap shot past Hawks goalie Nikolai Khabibulin from the top of the left circle for his 41st goal of the season.
The Hawks struck again on the power play at 3:13 of the second on Dustin Byfuglien's 19th. Kane picked up his 49th assist—and climbed into a tie with Washington's Nicklas Backstrom for the rookie scoring lead with his 67th point—when he hit Byfuglien with a pass across the crease that the winger one-timed past Osgood.
After Kirk Maltby's scored off a rebound of his own shot at 6:10 to make it 4-2, Kane took the rookie scoring lead with his 19th goal as he deflected a long pass from Duncan Keith past Osgood at 7:39.
Adam Burish's third goal of the season made it 6-2.
"We battled hard all night," Barker said. "We were pretty disciplined. We need to get up early, especially on a team like that, best team in the league for a reason. But we did a pretty good job at containing them."
Even if the Blues top the Predators, the Hawks still need to win their remaining two games—Friday night at home against Nashville and then in Detroit—and have Vancouver lose one of its final two games to reach their first postseason since 2002.
Blackhawks 6, Red Wings 2