The storied divisional rivalry between the Chicago Blackhawks and Detroit Red Wings had to end the way it did on Wednesday night. It wasn’t pretty at all, with penalties, shoving and controversy in abundance, but in the end, the two teams, who will now be in opposite conferences, shook hands in the middle of the ice at United Center in the capstone to their history together.
The overtime game ended almost four minutes into extra time, with Brent Seabrook grabbing the puck after Dave Bolland freed the puck with a huge hit. After finding open ice, Seabrook’s wrist shot from the high slot defelcted off Niklas Kronwall and over Jimmy Howard’s glove. It was Seabrook’s first goal of the postseason, and it led the Blackhawks to their first comeback from a 3-1 deficit in the playoffs.
All of that overtime drama would’ve been avoided if not for a shoddy call late in the third period. With less that two minutes left in the period, Niklas Hjalmarsson took a pass from Andrew Shaw and ripped the shot past Howard. Unfortunately, referee Stephen Walkom was watching a wrestling match between Brandon Saad and Kyle Quincey and blew the whistle to call coincidental roughing minors on them. The whistle blew a mere second before Hjalmarsson’s goal, negating it. Everyone from hockey analysts to NHL players on Twitter were outraged at what they saw as a terrible call.
Speaking of coincidence, Walkom is no stranger to penalties in the Blackhawks’ playoff games. It was Walkom who didn’t call a penalty on Raffi Torres after his vicious hit on Marian Hossa in last year’s playoffs. Walkom was also the one who called those three penalties on Jonathan Toews in Game Four.
That call has to be put behind the team. The series is over, as is the Red Wings’ time in the Western Conference. Perhaps the Blackhawks will meet them again in a future Stanley Cup Final. For now, there’s a little time to reflect on this series before moving on to the Western Conference Finals.