The fact that a former Detroit Red Wing star delivered them for the Hawks on a power play just 51 seconds into overtime at Joe Louis Arena was just a nice little side note for Marian Hossa.
It was Hossa's 23rd goal of the season that put Chicago over the top for a 3-2 win against the Red Wings, but the only thing he cared about was what it did for the Hawks – who came into the game eighth in the Western Conference.
"It's always nice to beat one of the top teams in their building, but I don't know if I had extra motivation (against Detroit)," said Hossa, who double shifted most of the game and logged 33 shifts in 23:52 of ice time. "The motivation is just get to the playoffs and we're in a tight race. That's the main motivation. I think we can be pretty pleased with the overall result."
If it weren't for a hooking minor called on Henrik Zetterberg with just four seconds left in the third period, it might not have been such a pleasant end for the Hawks – who moved to 90 points in the ultra tight West race. Chicago (41-26-8) will now face the Boston Bruins on the road Tuesday in another playoff-like game they're looking at with a "must-win" attitude.
Had they dropped this one, the outlook wouldn't have been very rosy.
"None bigger all year," Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said of the win. "It was a huge win coming off a very disappointing loss the other night. I liked the energy we had from the outset. It was a playoff game for us. Great pace. Great hockey game."
It was Zetterberg's hooking penalty, though, that led to Hossa's heroics in overtime.
Zetterberg committed the minor penalty against Patrick Kane with just four seconds left in the third, which gave Chicago its fifth man-advantage of the game -- far too many against the League's second-ranked power play.
"It was a penalty," Zetterberg said. "He made a good move there on me and I think they were 2 on 1, so I hooked him."
That was the only break Hossa needed to cap off an impressive night by beating MacDonald from the left circle just 51 seconds into overtime. Hossa also assisted on Seabrook's goal in the first to finish with a two-point game.
Quenneville told Hossa before the game that he planned on double shifting him on the second and third lines and it worked out well.
"Obviously if I wouldn't have had the legs, he wouldn't have played me (as much)," Hossa said. "But I felt pretty good. I tried to keep short shifts and I felt pretty good."
He looked pretty good, too – finishing as one of just three Hawks to put seven shots on goal. Kane, who finished with a pair of assists, was impressed.
"He's been playing great and it's nice to see him get the goal in overtime," Kane said. "Good for him and good for the team to get a win, but overall I think he played a full 60 minutes. He was awesome tonight."
The same could be said for both goalies, who were sharp from the outset and needed to stay that way in a lung-burning, fast-paced game that finished with 76 combined shots – including a whopping 41 by the Hawks.
MacDonald started in place of Jimmy Howard (shoulder sprain) and continued his good play in limited action this season. Among his saves, MacDonald made some huge ones in the second and third period against a desperate Hawks team pushing hard for the two points.
"I knew they were going to throw a lot of pucks at me," MacDonald said. "They're a great team and have a lot of talent over there and they're battling for that playoff spot. So, you knew they were going to come out hard, especially against a guy in net who isn't playing a whole lot. I thought I did a pretty good job not giving them second opportunities."
One of the few that he did allow wound up in the back of the net off the stick of Toews to get the scoring started just 2:54 into the game for his 31st goal. Not to be outdone, Lidstrom matched the Toews marker at 7:36 to tie it 1-1 – launching a blast from the point that Crawford never saw because he was screened by Johan Franzen.
Lidstrom's goal came during 4-on-4 play because of an elbowing major to Detroit forward Todd Bertuzzi, which Hossa countered 51 seconds later with a slashing minor.
Bertuzzi also was given a game misconduct for hitting Ryan Johnson in the head and knocking Johnson's helmet off. Johnson headed straight for the dressing room for work on a cut ear and to be tested for a concussion, but returned to the ice before Bertuzzi's penalty had expired."
While he was being worked on in the Hawks locker room, Bertuzzi came in and apologized for what happened. Johnson said he didn't see the hit on video, but doesn't think it was done with malicious intent.
"He was very apologetic," Johnson said. "Came walking right in here and said, 'Sorry' as soon as it happened. I haven't seen it on tape. I knew it was a high hit, but I didn't see it. I didn't think it was malicious or anything. He's a pretty big guy and I skate pretty low to the ground. I knew I was going to take a hit on the play just to try to make the play, but I haven't seen it. I'm not going to sit here and judge what it was."
It turned out to be a penalty-filled first, with both teams combining to commit seven and give each side three early power plays. Only the Hawks capitalized, though – with Seabrook scoring off a one-timer at 13:18 that was set up by Kane's slick feed from the low slot.
That made it 2-1 and it stayed that way through the second, despite the Hawks controlling the play for most of the period – outshooting the Wings 16-9 and forcing MacDonald to be sharp.
He was up to the task and also got some good fortune – especially during breakaways by both Hossa and Kane that came up empty.
Zetterberg tied it 2-2 on yet another power play just 2:25 into the third, but neither team could get another marker the rest of the period – despite good stretches of puck control and scoring chances.
Hossa then put an end to an exciting game, which could be a potential playoff series if the Hawks indeed solidify their invitation into the field.
"He had some good chances tonight," MacDonald said of Hossa. "He's a great skater, shoots the puck well and he did have a few good chances. It's funny that I stopped all of them but the one that counted the most. But we got a point out of it and that's huge."
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