This never happens, at least not here in Chicago. Windy City fans have gone through multiple heartbreaks of sports' moments spoiled by lack of overall talent, "blown calls" or some sort of 68-year-old curse.
But not tonight. Not for fans of the north and south sides, which witnessed another lackluster Crosstown Classic earlier this afternoon for a Cup, sponsored by an oil company you can smell while taking the Skyway south of the city.
Tonight belonged to Chicago fans who, through no fault of their own, had to relive, through memory all evening, past images of the 1991 Minnesota North Stars; the 1994 Toronto Maple Leafs; the 2007 Chicago Bears; or, dare I say, [GULP] the 1969, 1984, 1989, 1998, 2003 (OK, you get the point) Chicago Cubs.
The Blackhawks trailed this series against the seventh-seeded Detroit Red Wings, three games to one, coming into last Saturday evening. After two season-best performances by Coach Quenneville's squad and a Rolling Stones' concert to boot, the Blackhawks came into Game 7 feeling they needed to try their best to get what they needed: a trip to the Western Conference Finals.
After a deadlock of no goals in the first period, Patrick Sharp got the scoring started at 1 minute, 8 seconds into the second with a slick shot, off a nice pass from Marian Hossa, past goalie Jimmy Howard, to put the Blackhawks up 1-0. All was right with the world, as Blackhawk fans started to count down the clock like an over-anxious teen in Times Square on New Years Eve.
But, there was more to come. After Corey Crawford continued to stonewall the Red Wings in the second period, he came face-to-face with Henrik Zetterberg at just 26 seconds into the third period to tie things up at one-a-piece.
Just then, anyone near the 312, 773, 847 and 219, let out a simultaneous groan that would have exhausted the Great Fire of 1871. Both goalies proceeded to shutout their opposing offenses, so much so that anyone viewing this game knew they were headed for another NHL Game 7 classic -- but, still, no one in Chicago could have foreseen the light at the end of the tunnel.That was until Niklas Hjalmarsson scored what appeared to be the game-winning goal with just a little over 2 minutes left in regulation. That is, of course, with every curse that might remain in this one-horse town, referee Stephen Walkom waved it off due to Brandon Saad getting hit into the boards while the play was going down.
Bad call, time runs out, overtime ahead and Walkom begins to ask for a ride home.
After what was probably a rush of liquor to kill whatever pain existed in the belly of Blackhawks fans, the first overtime began and witnessed both teams literally skating on thin ice. And then, finally, after so many thoughts raced towards the minds of Blackhawks’, nay, Chicago fans' minds, of how they would explain this debacle years from now, Brent Seabrook decided to become available for this post season and scored the game winner from about 20 feet out.
"I don't even know if I saw it go in," Said Seabrook, of his game-winning goal in overtime. "It's exciting, and you don't get to do that too many times."
With a lot of credit going to Seabrook for ending the most intense game seen in this area in years, a lot of the credit goes to goalie Corey Crawford, who, after having a pretty good series, really showed up tonight and stopped 34 of 35 shots sent his way in the Blackhawks eventual 2-1 overtime thriller.
"To see that [game-winning goal] go in, it's unbelievable," Crawford said. "It was a great game up and down, and so many situations throughout the game. [Detroit] played a great game."
Tonight's game will no doubt go down in the Chicago history books as one of the greatest comebacks and series' wins anyone had ever seen. To be down three games to one and then dig deep and fight back will go on to live forever in the hearts of many Blackhawks fans.
But, remember, that was just round two. Right now, Jonathan Quick and the defending champion Los Angeles Kings are waiting in the wings just after the Blackhawks had to fight back to defeat Detroit.
It only gets tougher from here, but the ride continues, and the fun, seemingly, is just getting started. Buckle up, Game 1 is Saturday.