I know this was an elimination game for the Chicago Blackhawks. I am fully aware that a win on home ice would put the Detroit Red Wings in the Stanley Cup Final to reprise last year's finale versus the Pittsburgh Penguins. Even though I knew what was at stake, I couldn't feel the tension at the beginning of Detroit's 2-1 (
Maybe it had to do with the combined five regulars out of the lineup -- all since the series started. I mean,
One guy who got it right this time was goaltender
Getting through the first seemed to embolden the Blackhawks and stun the Red Wings. The teams waltzed through the second, with the Blackhawks getting more quality looks at
To their credit, the Blackhawks didn't back off. They actually bucked up. Defensemen jumped up. Wingers won battles. And then
As regulation time was running down, it was Huet's turn to dazzle.
Ultimately, the Blackhawks late surge wasn't enough either. Their effort was impressive and Huet's performance heroic. But, the Wings wouldn't be denied. On the stick of
And, maybe that's the point. The Red Wings approached this game as a necessary part of the process. The Blackhawks, on the other hand, could already count this season as a success, no matter the outcome. This one ended the way it felt at the beginning -- pre-ordained. In between, the action picked up and both teams did themselves proud.
Now, though, let the tension build in earnest.