The top-seeded Chicago Blackhawks won 4-3 in Detroit to force a deciding seventh game in their Western Conference semifinal playoff series.
DETROIT — Corey Crawford watched a fluttering puck get past his glove — a soft goal if there ever was one — and the Chicago Blackhawks looked as if they were in trouble against the Detroit Red Wings.
“I pretty much told myself it can’t get any worse,” Crawford said.
It did — for Detroit.
The Blackhawks picked up their crestfallen goaltender by scoring three times in the first half of the third period to beat the Red Wings 4-3 on Monday night and force a deciding Game 7 in their Western Conference semifinal series.
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“We’ve got that momentum,” Chicago captain Jonathan Toews said. “We want to keep it.”
The top-seeded Blackhawks got it when Bryan Bickell netted the go-ahead score early in the third. The Red Wings, who once led 3-1 in the series, began the third period of Game 6 with a 2-1 lead.
Chicago’s Michal Handzus tied the score in the opening minute of the final period. Bickell scored at 5:48 of the third. Michael Frolik’s backhander on a penalty shot at the 9:43 mark put the Blackhawks ahead 4-2 and silenced the once-raucous crowd at Joe Louis Arena.
Chicago needed that cushion because Detroit’s Damien Brunner scored with 52 seconds left. The seventh-seeded Red Wings pulled goaltender Jimmy Howard, but they were unable to score with the extra skater.
Game 7 is Wednesday in Chicago.
“If I would’ve told Detroit and Michigan we would play in Chicago in Game 7, I think everybody would be excited about that,” Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “I love Game 7s. We’ve got a chance to push them out of the playoffs. It should be a lot of fun.”
Detroit advanced to the second round after winning Game 6 at home and Game 7 on the road against second-seeded Anaheim.
“I think it’s nice that we’ve been through it this year in the first series and I think that helped our team,” Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg said.
“It will be easier for us to come in there and play loose and just focus on what we’re going to do.”
Crawford made 35 saves and Howard stopped 24 shots.
The Blackhawks sent the series back to Detroit with a 4-1 victory in Game 5 on Saturday, and jumped in front Monday on Marian Hossa’s goal in the first. But Patrick Eaves tied the score later in the period and Joakim Andersson put the Red Wings up 2-1 with a long wrister 10:11 into the second period.
The other West semifinal series also is going the distance. Defending Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles hosts the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday.