CHICAGO -- Chicago Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville never asked for an explanation.
He didn’t get mad or scream at the referees after Steven Walkom called off what looked to be the game-winning goal late in the third period of the Hawks' eventual 2-1 overtime victory in Game 7 over the Detroit Red Wings on Wednesday night.
Instead, Quenneville, captain Jonathan Toews and the rest of the team quietly regrouped in the overtime intermission and got past the controversial call to win the game and series.
Toews stood up and made one thing clear in the locker room.
“I said we’ll beat them 3-1,” he said, adding the disallowed goal to their total. “We were pretty [ticked] off the whistle blew right before that one went in. We weren’t going to go away that way.”
And they didn’t.
While Niklas Hjalmarsson and more than 22,000 others were celebrating his goal with 1:49 left in the third period, Brandon Saad and Kyle Quincy were tangling with each other near the benches. Though referee Dan O’Rourke signaled a goal on one end, Walkom claimed he blew the whistle before the puck went in, sending both players to the penalty box for roughing.
“I didn’t really do anything. I don’t agree with the call,” Saad said.
So the emotion of the moment turned -- in the stands and, it was assumed, on the bench. But the Hawks didn’t let it get to them the way the rest of the building did. Quenneville didn’t argue, Toews joked and the Hawks got ready for the next 20 minutes.
Well, maybe, Hjalmarsson wasn’t happy.
“It was actually pretty funny, seeing Jelly hopping around like that,” Dave Bolland said.
It was that calmness and resolve that helped the Hawks to a Game 7 win and a come-from-behind series victory. Down 3-1, all looked lost -– except, perhaps, in the Hawks dressing room.
“We asked ourselves a question: How bad do we want it?” Toews said. “You got your answer right there. That’s a heck of way to pull out four wins in seven games.”
To understand how they did it is to understand how they overcame the controversial no-goal call. With leadership. Knowing they could win, even after a bad call, reflects knowing they could win even after falling behind 3-1.
“After Game 4, their approach, belief in the room, was there,” Quenneville said.
That belief can only stem from the things the Hawks accomplished all year long. Do you think the Minnesota Wild believed the same things when they were down 3-1 to the Hawks? Hope is different from belief. Everyone has hope. The Hawks believed, because after their Game 2 beating they actually played pretty well in the third and fourth games. Good play eventually gets rewarded.
“You want to be in control every step of the way throughout the series,” Toews said. “To be pushed to the edge like that, it really makes every guy check themselves.”
Brent Seabrook was pushed to the edge when his minutes were decreased; Corey Crawford when he gave up a weak goal in Game 6; and Toews when he was stuck in a scoring drought early in the series. None let those things get to them. And neither did Walkom’s call.
“Yeah, we were a little bit [mad],” Patrick Kane said. “It was quickly forgotten. Not too much you can do about it. Best to leave it behind you and move on.”
Not think about it?
That’s all anyone in the building was thinking about, just as many were thinking the series was over days ago. But the Hawks found a way, on Wednesday and over the course of a classic seven games.
“If not everyone was believing, they are now,” Toews said. “It’s a special team.”