CHICAGO -- "Chelsea Dagger" stopped playing. When the Chicago Blackhawks' goal song was cut short, that was the first sign to many of the 22,103 fans at the United Center that Blackhawks defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson’s potential game-winning goal in Game 7 of the Western Conference semifinals wasn’t going to count.
With 1:48 remaining in the third period of a tied game, Hjalmarsson took a pass from Andrew Shaw and beat Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard in a sequence that would have been long remembered in Blackhawks lore if it were the game-winner. Now it will be remembered as part of the one of the most controversial calls of these playoffs.
The goal was waved off when referee Stephen Walkom called coincidental minors on Kyle Quincey and Brandon Saad near the Detroit bench. Quincey had shoved Saad into the Detroit bench, Saad retaliated with a swing at Quincey and the whistle was blown moments before Hjalmarsson’s shot hit the back of the net.
When the crowd realized it, the ice was showered with red Blackhawks rally towels to a loud chorus of boos.
“[I] went blank from there. I got so mad. I didn’t see the situation [that] happened there, but it doesn’t matter now,” Hjalmarsson said after the Blackhawks recovered to win 2-1 on a Brent Seabrook overtime goal. “We got the win, and Seabs scored a huge goal for us. If we would’ve lost, it would’ve been a tough one. But since we won, it doesn’t really matter much.”
Said Saad: “I don’t know what the call was, why he made it, but that was his decision. I’m just fortunate we got the goal in overtime. Obviously, I wasn’t happy. But it’s refocus in between periods, go into overtime and get the win.”
Quincey didn’t see the goal scored by Hjalmarsson, but he did hear the whistle before the goal horn sounded. He knew it was coming back. He might have been the first.
“[Saad]’s my guy, I went to finish him. I decided to try and throw him into the bench to eliminate any possibility of him getting it. I thought the puck was still at my feet,” Quincey told ESPN.com. “All of a sudden the horn goes. The whistle definitely went before. It could have gone either way. A penalty, coincidentals or no call at all. I think we got a break there.”