Red Wings’ rookie forward Darren Helm scored 3:58 into overtime Wednesday night, lifting Detroit to a 2-1 win over the Chicago Blackhawks and putting the Wings into the Stanley Cup Finals for the second consecutive year.
Detroit’s 4-1 series win over Chicago means the Red Wings move on to face the Pittsburgh Penguins, who they defeated in a six-game series in last season’s Finals.
The game-winning goal came on a scramble in front of Chicago netminder Christobal Huet. Brett Lebda put a shot on net that Huet stopped but Tomas Holmstrom knocked the puck loose from the edge of the crease. Helm was free to bang the puck into the open net for his fourth career playoff goal.
Huet had been stellar all night, finishing the game with 44 saves on 46 Detroit chances, including a sprawling kick save on Johan Franzen in the closing seconds of regulation.
The Red Wings broke a scoreless tie 6:08 into the third period, with Dan Cleary deflecting a shot from Lebda past Huet.
Chicago tied things back up with 7:07 left in regulation on Patrick Kane‘s first goal of the series. Kane raced into the Detroit end down the right wing boards and lifted a backhander over the shoulder of Wings’ netminder Chris Osgood.
Osgood ended up with 30 saves on the night, including several on Colin Fraser, who made his first appearance of the series in place of the injured Martin Havlat.
In addition to missing Havlat, the Blackhawks were without starting goalie Nikolai Khabibulin.
The Red Wings came into the game with a long list of injured players. Pavel Datsyuk, Nicklas Lidstrom, Kris Draper, Tomas Kopecky and Andreas Lilja were joined by Jonathan Ericsson, who had an emergency appendectomy Wednesday morning.
Datsyuk, Lidstrom and Ericsson are expected to be in the lineup for Game One of the Stanley Cup Finals.