By Connor McKnight–
CHICAGO (WSCR) When Ben Smith netted the game winner 15:30 into the overtime of Game 6 between the Canucks and Blackhawks, it ended one epic chapter only to open up another. Whether it’s Roberto Luongo being supplanted by Cory Schneider in net, or Luongo’s return due to an injury, or Michael Frolik’s successful game-tying penalty shot that set up both events, or the fact that the Blackhawks have a chance to become just the fourth team in the history of the league to come back from down 3-0, Sunday night had storylines.
For their part, the Blackhawks tried to ignore Vancouver’s mind games to begin the night. Cory Schneider was the first goalie on the ice, took all the shots in warm-ups and ended up taking Roberto Luongo’s place in net. Really, no matter what goaltender was protecting Vancouver’s pipes, the Hawks had to dent the net for a chance at advancing.
Now that the Hawks have pushed this series to seven, it would seem all momentum is on their side. The Hawks have now won elimination games in two very distinct and important ways. They are-all at once-a team who dominated and embarrassed the Canucks with 7-2 and 5-0 wins in Games Four and Five. Now, they can add scraping victory from the jaws of defeat.
Time and time again late in the third period and the overtime Sunday night the Canucks peppered Corey Crawford with shots. Time and time again the Blackhawks failed to sustain offensive possessions and allowed the noose to grow ever tighter around their neck. It didn’t matter. Despite seeing just 13 shots (and only two in his 17:29 in the third period) it was clear Roberto Luongo was giving up rebounds. The Hawks finally jumped on one and booked a ticket to Vancouver for a chance at advancing into the second round.