The Chicago Blackhawks clawed their way back into their Western Conference semifinal against the Detroit Red Wings with the help of their depth players. Chicago's 4-3 victory in Game 6 evens the series at three games apiece and puts the Blackhawks one step closer to completing a rally from being down 3-1 in the series.
Monday's action took a similar pattern to most of the previous games. The physical tone continued to be a factor as the Red Wings took every opportunity to pound Jonathan Toews. The 'Hawks' forecheck was aggressive and penalties factored heavily in the final score as well as on the lower lines on both sides.
Chicago took advantage of an early penalty to draw first blood. Marian Hossa put the 'Hawks up 1-0 when he backhanded a loose puck across the goal line. The Slovakian was the only big name to score on the night.
Detroit's goals came from the sticks of Patrick Eaves, Joakim Andersson and Damien Brunner. Andersson's knuckler from just inside the blueline put the Red Wings up 2-1 going into the second intermission.
Michal Handzus tied the game in the first minute of the third period with his first goal of the postseason. Bryan Bickell contributed with a goal, his fifth of the playoffs, to put Chicago up 3-2 in the sixth minute of the third period.
The Blackhawks' final goal, the eventual game-winner, came when Michael Frolik blocked a shot and parlayed it into a breakaway. Carlo Colaiacovo slashed Frolik, after which he was given a penalty shot.
Frolik has had his difficulties finishing scoring chances even when he's one-on-one with the goalie. However, he elevated a backhand past Jimmy Howard to provide a crucial insurance goal.
Detroit pulled Howard late and Brunner's goal made things uncomfortable for the final minute. When time ran out, however, it was the Blackhawks who emerged with their first win in Joe Louis Arena in this series.
Chicago was able to come out on top despite losing 36 draws and winning just 23. The fact that the 'Hawks have been able to punish the Red Wings when they commit infractions has brought Chicago to even ground.
Nothing is settled between these two teams. There is still the matter of a Game 7 showdown between the two long-time rivals. However, one game for all the marbles at the United Center sure beats the circumstances going into these last two games for Chicago.
One thing is evident as Wednesday night approaches. The role players are likely going to have a big role in how the final game unfolds.