After four years and 80 games, the Blackhawks are back in the Stanley Cup playoffs.
They reached the hockey postseason Wednesday night and they did it by tying the Detroit Red Wings, the team with by far the best record in the National Hockey League.
This 3-3 deadlock gave the Hawks 94 points for the season, making it mathematically impossible for ninth-place Edmonton to knock them out of the top eight in the Western Conference.
"We accomplished something nobody thought we would seven months ago," Hawks coach Brian Sutter said. "I'm happy with that. I don't have a sense of relief at all. I expected to be in the playoffs. It's a feather in the guys' hats.
"We put ourselves in a position to do something better than make the playoffs. Our goal is 96 points. If we get 96 there's a good chance we'll get home ice for the playoffs. Points are precious and we got a big one.
"I'm disappointed we didn't win."
It looked like the Hawks were going to win when they held a 3-1 lead as the game hit the homestretch.
But then Igor Larionov swatted in the rebound of a shot by Brett Hull with 6½ minutes to play, and 86 seconds later Darren McCarty pushed the puck past goalie Steve Passmore during a mad scramble in front of the net to tie the score.
Passmore deserved a better fate. The backup goalie, who since late December has been making major contributions in big games, faced 40 shots, an output that tied the season high for a Hawks opponent.
Passmore outplayed Dominik Hasek, who had to cope with only 23 shots.
Eric Daze's 37th goal gave the Hawks the lead at 11:36 of the first period, but Sergei Fedorov answered for Detroit 69 seconds before the first intermission.
In the second period defenseman Phil Housley's 14th goal and Steve Thomas' 11th in his 32nd game of the season gave the Hawks their two-goal lead.
Sixty-seven seconds into overtime the Hawks' Steve Sullivan was breaking away when Brett Hull brought him down in the Red Wings' zone and referee Steve Heyer blew his whistle.
Hull was penalized for hooking, but to Sullivan's amazement he too was slapped with a penaltyfor diving.
Sullivan was so enraged that he received a 10-minute misconduct penalty plus a game misconduct penalty for telling the officials how he felt about the call.
"He could have called a penalty shot," Sullivan said. "It was a cop-out call."Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun