VANCOUVER, B.C. -- After a 4-3 loss on home ice to the Detroit Red Wings on Sunday afternoon some felt the Blackhawks season was over, but not center Ryan Johnson.
Johnson had the feeling a meeting with his former mates, the Vancouver Canucks, was a certainty this spring. Prior to joining the Canucks, the Thunder Bay, Ont., native spent three seasons with the St. Louis Blues.
In his first season with the Canucks, the 2008-09 season, Johnson and his new teammates swept the Blues in their first-round matchup.
In the offseason Johnson joined the Blackhawks as a free agent after spending two injury-plagued seasons with the Canucks.
"I had a feeling about a month ago that this was going to happen," Johnson said. "I just had that feeling. When I came to Vancouver from St. Louis, I had this feeling I was going to play St. Louis in the first round, and it happened.
"I've kind of been preparing for it the last few weeks. Obviously it is an emotional deal coming back to a place where you played and against friends."
It wasn't until around 8:30 p.m. ET when the final buzzer sounded on the Dallas Stars and Minnesota Wild game in St. Paul, Minn., which the Stars lost 5-3 to the Wild.
The Stars' loss of course paved the way for the Blackhawks to sneak in as the eighth seed in the Western Conference.
"It was a long day, early game for us, it felt like the season was over and then things turned around in the afternoon and we’re back in it," forward Patrick Sharp said. "It's a great feeling, a great accomplishment to be in the playoffs -- we're excited about it and can't wait to get it started."
With Game 1 now just hours away, Sharp admits it's time to make use of this second opportunity.
"We're focused on what we need to do," he said. "We got to play a good, patient game here to start things off. It's going to be loud, it's going to be fast, and we're excited about it."
In Johnson's mind this is what the playoffs are all about.
"It's exciting. I think it's a great thing for these two teams to meet for a third time and the fans love it," he said. "There should be a lot of energy and it should be a blast."