Western Conference Finals, Game 5 (5/27/09)

Tonight the Red Wings took on the Blackhawks with a game in Detroit. The Wings had a chance to wrap it up in this game and move on to the Penguins and the Stanley Cup Finals. It would be a difficult task with Lidstrom, Datsyuk, Draper and Lilja all still out. To make matters worse Ericsson was also out after having an emergency appendectomy. He’s only expected to miss one game which is just incredible. The Hawks were without Havlat, which is probably for the best. Khabibulin was still out as well. Osgood and Huet were the starting goaltenders.

Detroit was hot right from the get-go in this one. They had some glorious scoring chances and took 21 shots in the first period alone. Huet stood on his head and although he looked a little shaky, he didn’t let anything get behind him. At the other end Chicago had a few good chances as well. Osgood looked very sharp as usual.

Detroit had two power plays in the first, one when Helm was hooked by Sharp and another when Chicago had too many men on the ice. The Hawks were really tight on the penalty kill. I’m sure they were happy to end the period with no score.

Chicago had a lot more jump in the second period. They pressured hard and Osgood had to be, and was on fire to keep his team in the game.

Holmstrom and Fraser got into a scuffle behind Chicago’s net and both got roughing penalties. Eager was in the box as well for a 10 minute misconduct. Apparently he was mouthing off about something to the referee. It was 4 on 4 since the misconduct doesn’t cost you a man. Then Hossa was called for slashing and the Hawks had a 4 on 3 power play. Detroit did a good job killing that off. Just a few seconds later Lebda was penalized for a hook. It was a goal saving hook to negate a Chicago breakaway after a turnover so you can’t complain too much about Lebda taking a penalty in that situation. On the power play Detroit had a couple of shorthanded chances. Helm singlehandedly killed off the last 25 seconds of the penalty. He was incredible. He ducked and dodged his way around the entire Blackhawks team while they tried to take it away from him and he had two good scoring chances! His theme music should be the Benny Hill song (Yakety Sax).

The penalty parade continued in the second period. Duncan Keith was called for slashing and during the power play Holmstrom was called for tripping. Even through all of the power play time neither team scored in the second period.

Chicago had a ton of scoring chances in the first two minutes of the third period. They were really buzzing and Osgood kept shutting the door.

Then Detroit had some good chances at the other end and it finally paid off. They were really putting the pressure on and Chicago couldn’t clear it. It came back to Lebda at the point. He shot it and Cleary was in front of Huet. Cleary tipped it between his own legs and past Huet to take the one to nothing lead. It was a great goal for Cleary who had almost tipped one in on the same shift just a few seconds earlier.

With just over seven minutes left in the game Kane took the puck in and backhanded it over Osgood and into the net. Osgood didn’t give him much room but he threaded the needle. That was Kane’s first goal of the series and it was a timely one for the Hawks.

In the last thirty seconds Franzen had a wide open net on a rebound attempt. He elevated the puck and Huet was laying flat on his stomach. Huet made an incredible save with his skate to hold the tie.

The tie held until the end of regulation so they went to overtime for the third time in this series.

In the overtime Detroit was dominant. Chicago had a few chances but it was mostly Detroit attacking. The Wings were doing a great job of collecting rebounds and cutting off clearing attempts to keep the pressure on. Finally, Lebda shot from the point, it hit the backboards and came back between Huet’s knees where Holmstrom pushed it through but it didn’t go in. The puck went through Huet and come out the other side of the crease and laid there. Helm jumped on it and popped it in for the overtime, game winning, series clinching goal. It was so fitting that Helm got the goal after the great game he had tonight. Aside from Osgood he was probably the MVP of the game.

Overall this was a fantastic series for the Wings. Congratulations to the Blackhawks who had a phenomenal year and will only get better. I have a feeling that the road to the Stanley Cup will pass through Chicago in the next few years.

Now the Wings have to face a red hot Pittsburgh team. I can hardly believe that this season has come down to a rematch. It will determine whether or not Hossa made the right choice. That’ll be quite a storyline for this series.

The first two games of the finals will be back to back for some reason. They will take place this Saturday and Sunday in Detroit. Hopefully our injured guys can get healthy enough to play over the next couple of days.

Here come the Finals….let’s go Red Wings!!!

This 1-2 overtime win finishes this Western Conference Final series at 4-1 Detroit.

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