DETROIT -- The Chicago Blackhawks were 20 minutes from a long summer. Then, after a furious opening to the third period Monday against the Detroit Red Wings, they weren’t.
The visiting Blackhawks scored three goals in less than nine minutes to start the final period of Game 6 at Joe Louis Arena. Chicago's 4-3 victory means this Western Conference Semifinal will have a Game 7 on Wednesday at United Center (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS).
Michal Handzus, Bryan Bickell and Michael Frolik scored in the third period, and goaltender Corey Crawford shook off a bad goal in the second to record 35 saves. Chicago, the Presidents' Trophy winner, has won two in a row after falling behind 3-1 in the best-of-7 series.
"It was just pure confidence. Our heads were just in the right spot," said Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews, who had two assists. "We knew what we had to do and we weren't panicking. We just had to stay with it.
"I think all our hard work is paying off. We're finding ways, we're doing the right things to score goals, and we're confident when we get those chances that they're going to go in somehow. We've got that momentum, we want to keep it."
Detroit led 2-1 and was 20 minutes from a trip to California to face either the Los Angeles Kings or San Jose Sharks in the Western Conference Finals, but third-period struggles, prevalent in the opening round against the Anaheim Ducks, were a problem again.
"I thought tonight actually, over 60 minutes, sure we made some mistakes, but all in all we made a lot of good things out there and we played a pretty good game," Red Wings defenseman Niklas Kronwall said. "Sure we made some mistakes that cost us; that's the way the game is played sometimes. You just have to stick with it. Stay confident."
Handzus tied the score 2-2, 51 seconds into the third. The puck went into the right corner, and two Red Wings players went with Blackhawks defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson. He got the puck to Handzus, who was all alone in front for his first goal of the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Bickell gave the Blackhawks a 3-2 lead with his fifth goal of the postseason at 5:48. The puck had left the offensive zone, but Detroit’s Johan Franzen brought it back in so Toews was not ruled offsides. Later in the sequence, Toews put a shot on net from the right corner, and Bickell was able to outmuscle rookie defenseman Brendan Smith and tap the rebound past goaltender Jimmy Howard.
"There was no negative talk. There was no panic," Bickell said. "We just planned to stick to our game plan and we did it."
Frolik was awarded a penalty shot at 9:43 of the third when he got behind Detroit’s Carlo Colaiacovo before the defenseman slashed him just as he was about to shoot on the breakaway. Frolik beat Howard with a nifty backhand for his third goal of the postseason and a two-goal lead.
"I just tried to make a play with a shot and it hit him in the hand," Colaiacovo said. "I was just trying to get it down to the net and it was a fluke bounce. There was not much I could really do; I'm just trying to make a play. It's unfortunate the way it ended. I thought I did a good job recovering. I haven't seen the play. I didn't think I hit him in the hand. I thought I hit him in his pants. It's an unfortunate call ... I was surprised they called a penalty shot."
That penalty shot loomed much larger after Damien Brunner scored for the Red Wings with 51.7 seconds left to make it 4-3. It was Brunner’s team-leading fifth goal of this postseason.
Joakim Andersson’s first career Stanley Cup Playoff goal gave the Red Wings a 2-1 lead midway through the second period. Detroit defenseman Jakub Kindl intercepted a pass by Chicago’s Brent Seabrook in the neutral zone and got the puck to Andersson near the Red Wings bench.
Andersson skated into the zone and sent a soft shot toward the net that Crawford whiffed on with his glove at 10:11. Seabrook's stick was in the area of the shot, but even if he did touch it, Crawford had time to react.
"It was a knuckle puck; it's hard for the goalie to see those sometimes," Andersson said.
Marian Hossa scored his second power-play goal of the series to give Chicago a 1-0 lead at 3:53 of the first period. The goal came nine seconds after Kindl went to the penalty box for hitting Frolik into the boards near the Red Wings bench instead of playing the puck as it went by.
Toews won the faceoff back to Seabrook, who gave the puck to partner Duncan Keith. As he skated toward the middle of the ice, Keith sent a pass back to the left wall for Hossa. He passed it to Toews, who had a clear path to the net because the quick passing play caught the Red Wings out of position.
Hossa followed Toews to the net and put in the loose puck just before the net came off its moorings.
After Hossa scored on the man-advantage in Game 1, the Blackhawks had been scoreless on the power play before Andrew Shaw and Toews scored on back-to-back chances in Game 5.
Patrick Eaves evened the score for the Red Wings late in the opening period. Smith kept the puck in the offensive zone along the right wall and got it to forward Drew Miller. Crawford did not corral a relatively harmless-looking shot, and Eaves was there to poke the rebound past him with 1:09 left in the period.
Top-seeded Chicago forced a Game 6 with a strong effort Saturday night at United Center. Andrew Shaw scored twice and Toews had his first of the postseason as the Blackhawks won 4-1.
That stopped a three-game winning streak for the seventh-seeded Red Wings. Detroit took Game 2 at United Center before sweeping the first two at The Joe. Howard stopped 86 of 88 shots in the three games, and the Red Wings found enough offense to surge to a surprising series lead after Chicago opened the round with a 4-1 victory.
The Red Wings had two chances to finish off their rivals. Now they face a second winner-take-all contest after defeating the Ducks in seven games in the first round.
"It's not like they came in here and squashed us," Babcock said. "They got what we gave them. Period. If I would have told our whole team before this series, if I would have told Detroit, Michigan before this series, that we were going to be playing Chicago in Game 7, I think everyone would have been pretty excited about that.
"I love Game 7s. I'm excited about it. We've got a chance to push them out of the playoffs. Should be a lot of fun."