Former Blackhawks coach Brian Sutter had a theory for why they would play some of their best games of the season against the Detroit Red Wings: fear of being embarrassed.
That's a feeling with which the Hawks are all too familiar after a pair of dismal outings earlier in the week.
But the presence of the Red Wings and a rare sellout crowdtwo things that always seem to go hand in handproduced the Hawks' best showing in weeks as they head into the two-day Christmas break.
Still, it wasn't enough as Detroit mounted a furious comeback with two goals in the final 39 seconds to force overtime before Pavel Datsyuk scored the game-winner as time expired in the extra session to give the Red Wings a 3-2 victory.
The game-winner originally was waved off as coming after time had expired, but the call was overruled by league officials in Toronto.
After referees Eric Furlatt and Shane Heyer went to the phone for video review, they ruled Datsyuk's shot crossed the goal line just before time expired.
The victory was the fourth in a row for the Wings over the Hawks and kept Detroit two points ahead of Nashville in the Central Division. It also spoiled a night in which the Hawks had the better of the play for 59 minutes and 21 seconds.
The Hawks got on the board late the first period after some stellar short-handed work. Mark Bell harassed Jason Williams at center ice and forced a turnover just as Tyler Arnason came out of the penalty box.
Bell chased down the puck and put a shot on goal that Detroit goaltender Chris Osgood kicked right to the stick of the trailing Arnason for his 10th goal of the season and his fifth in his last eight games.
Another Detroit turnover, this time at the Hawks' blue line, doubled the advantage. Martin Lapointe picked off a Tomas Holmstrom pass and started a Hawks 3-on-1 break. Lapointe received a return pass from Matthew Barnaby and slid it past Osgood for his sixth goal of the season, just his second at even strength.
Nikolai Khabibulin was 39 seconds away from his first shutout as the Blackhawks' goalie when Kris Draper redirected a Jason Wooley pass to make it 2-1.
After a Detroit timeout, the Red Wings immediately gained possession. Nicklas Lidstrom, who played 33:58 on the night, fired a shot from the high slot through traffic and past Khabibulin to tie the game 2-2 and add still more frustration for the Hawks.
Rookie defenseman Brent Seabrook will be out four to six weeks after spraining his knee midway through Wednesday's 6-1 loss to Nashville. Seabrook has been the Hawks' most consistent player from the start of the season and is a team-best plus-8. The Hawks recalled Anton Babchuk from Norfolk.
"Anton has played very well and he'll step up and get more ice time. It'll be good for him too," Hawks coach Trent Yawney said.
Khabibulin (Russia) joins Tuomo Ruutu (Finland) and Jaroslav Spacek (Czech Republic) as Hawks on Olympic teams. Ruutu took part in the morning skate Friday, going through all the drills. Eric Daze was also on the ice but didn't participate in every drill. Yawney moved Curtis Brown to wing and Tyler Arnason back to center. Yawney hopes relieving Brown of the defensive responsibilities at center will help his offense. Brown's only goal of the year came opening night. Detroit captain Steve Yzerman was scratched with a groin injury, something he has battled all season. Yzerman has played 131 games against the Hawks in his Hall of Fame career and has 53 goals and 151 points.
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