CHICAGO — In the end, it didn’t matter. But at the time, it seemed like it could turn the tide in the Red Wings’ favor.
With 1:47 left in regulation of Game 7 and the game tied 1-1, Blackhawks defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson appeared to score the go-ahead goal and pandemonium erupted at the United Center.
But that was short-lived as referee Stephen Walkom waved off the goal as he had already blown his whistle to call off-setting roughing penalties on Kyle Quincey and Brandon Saad.
There were varying reactions to the call.
“I thought they scored,” Wings defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo said. “I didn’t know it was disallowed until I saw Hjalmarsson in the middle of the ice wanting to swing his stick at somebody. Then when you look at the plays, backtrack, and see what happened, the whistle had blown before the puck was even shot.”
Of course the Blackhawks fans responded with loud displeasure and the Blackhawks themselves weren’t thrilled either.
were pretty upset,” said Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook, who
scored the game-winner in overtime. “I was right behind Hammer, so I
didn’t even see what happened. It sucks when a goal like that with that
much time (left) is called back. To be honest, we got in the room. We
thought we should have been game over and series over. But the boys just
forgot about it, regrouped and went out there to try and have a good
start to the overtime.”
Said Hjalmarsson: “I got so mad. I didn’t
see the situation what happened there but it doesn’t matter now. 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
Detroit goaltender Jimmy Howard didn’t even hear the whistle on the play.
“You couldn’t hear anything down on the ice,” Howard said. “It was so loud you couldn’t hear the back ref blowing the whistle. It’s just one of those things you take.”
Quincey was one of the few who could hear the whistle.
“I was the one guy that didn’t see it because I was engaged in the bench there,” Quincey said. “I was right near the whistle so I probably had the best ‘ear’ sight of it. The whistle definitely went before the horn. It was a fortunate break for us. Too bad we didn’t capitalize on it.”
Nyquist heard the whistle, too.
“The ref closest to our bench, right by our bench, blew the whistle at least five seconds before it went in,” Nyquist said. “So they just kept playing. We knew it was blown off.”
Wings veteran Daniel Cleary put the whole thing in perspective.
“Steve made a call that he thought was the right call,” Cleary said. “I don’t think he saw Hjalmarsson coming down the slot. I mean, listen, referees are human. They make mistakes. I don’t know why everybody keeps getting on them for it. They try to do the best they can. It’s a fast game. Anybody can look from up top or look on TV and say shoulda, coulda. But you’re not the ice. You don’t know how it is out there.”