Red Wings Return to Stanley Cup Finals Via OT Win
In an exciting ending to the Western Conference Finals, the Detroit Red Wings put away the Chicago Blackhawks 2-1 in overtime to win the series in game 5. Detroit managed to win the game despite having Niklas Lidstrom and Pavel Datsyuk reduced to spectators once again. Lucky for them, they now have several days off before they have to meet the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Stanley Cup Finals so they can rest and recoup.
Detroit dominated the first period, putting up 21 shots to Chicago's 9. However it was the stellar play of backup goalie Cristobal Huet that kept the Blackhawks in the game. He turned back every shot he faced in the first and second period, as did Red Wings goaltender Chris Osgood.
The second and third periods were extremely even, with both teams seeing scoring opportunities but not being able to convert. Finally, six minutes into the third period, Detroit's magic man, Dan Cleary, tipped in a shot from Brett Lebda for the 1-0 lead and his 8 th goal of the postseason.
With Chicago seemingly halfway to a sunny vacation somewhere, youngster Patrick Kane broke out of his drought to tie the score 13 minutes into the third. Kane flew down the boards, turning on his jets and making a few moves and then sent a buzzing backhand shot that made it between Osgood's shoulder and the inside post.
Huet would have to come up with a sensational save to send the game into overtime however. With just a few seconds left on the clock the Red Wings were applying pressure. Johan Franzen ended up with the puck and a seemingly open net with Huet sprawled out on the ice. Franzen flipped the puck towards the net, but somehow Huet was able to lift his leg off the ground high enough to deflect the shot away.
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The brilliant save from Huet would not be enough however to extend the Blackhawks' playoff run however. Both teams saw early scoring chances in the fast paced overtime period. Less than four minutes in, Darren Helm scooped up a rebound from a Tomas Holmstrom shot and sent it to the back of the net for the series winning tally.
While Chicago must be disappointed in the result of the series, the team must also be quite excited for the future. Led by a cast with half of its players under 25 years of age, including captain Jonathon Toews and Kane, the Blackhawks should be able to build on this deep postseason run in the coming years.
For the Red Wings, it's a return to the Stanley Cup Finals and a chance to repeat as champions. Their opponents? The same as last year's, the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Stanley Cup Finals begin on Saturday, May 30.
By Jake Emen
ProHockey-fans.com Staff Writer
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