Things were going splendidly for the Detroit Red Wings through forty minutes.
They were outshooting Chicago 28-20, Pavel Datsyuk's line was crushing the Jonathan Toews line in puck possession, and Corey Crawford had allowed a debilitating softy to give them a 2-1 lead heading into the intermission. The Wings were a period away from punching their ticket to the Western Conference finals.
But then the Blackhawks came storming out in the third. Ten minutes later, Chicago led this game, 4-2. Twenty minutes later, they'd won it, 4-3.
The issue, in a nutshell: Detroit gave Chicago far too much space in front of Jimmy Howard in the final frame. On the game-tying goal, Michal Handzus had enough time in the goalmouth to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich (and meticulously distribute the peanut butter to all four corners equally, at that) before scoring. On Bryan Bickell's go-ahead goal, Brendan Smith had all the presence of Casper the Friendly Ghost.
And on Michael Frolik's 4-2 goal, which was originally insurance but wound up being the winner, Frolik was literally the only skater on the ice. After being awarded a rare playoff penalty shot, the Blackhawks' winger made the most of the opportunity, beating Jimmy Howard with an absolute beauty:
Don't let the near-silent Detroit crowd fool you into thinking this wasn't an incredible move. They're biased.
It was a gutsy move too. Give Frolik extra credit for trying something so thoroughly cheeky in such a big moment, and making it look so easy.
Speaking of easy, how about that call? As hooks or slashes go, there wasn't much there. Considering what the standard for contact has been in this chippy series, one wonders how what amount to a love tap can be enough to grant a penalty shot in the third period of a one-goal Game 6.
It was a gift for Frolik, but give him credit for making the most of it.
It helps that he was able to draw on experience. The goal was Michael Frolik's second career playoff penalty shot goal, making him the first player in NHL history with two.
This one was bigger, though: it was a game-winner.
Detroit would trim the lead to one just inside the final minute, but it wasn't enough after Chicago's three-goal third. Rather than heading to the Western Conference finals, they'll board a plane back to Chicago, knowing they let this game -- and possibly this series -- get away from them.
Game 7 goes Wednesday night.
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- Ice Hockey
- Sports & Recreation
- Detroit Red Wings
- Michael Frolik
- Pavel Datsyuk
- Jimmy Howard