The Blackhawks lost a hard fought battle against the Detroit Red Wings Wednesday night when the Wings' Darren Helm knocked in an overtime goal against Chicago's Cristobal Huet.
Despite the loss, Huet, who was playing for injured goalie Nikolai Khabibulin, had less trouble in Game 5 than he did in the Hawks' 6-1 loss against the Red Wings in Game 4. Huet put up 44 saves throughout the game, including a crowd shocking kick save from his stomach late in the third period that helped send the game into overtime.
Both teams' goalies helped keep Game 5 scoreless through the first two periods but the streak ended with Detroit’s Dan Cleary scoring against the Hawks 6 minutes into the third period. With a little more than seven minutes remaining in regulation play, Chicago's Patrick Kane evened out the score and kept the Hawks' hopes alive.
The Hawks fought through nearly four minutes of overtime play before the Red Wings' Helms slapped the shot that sealed the coffin.
Two of the season's biggest stars, Marty Havlat, whose two goals in the Hawks first playoff game appearance against the Calgary Flames, and goalie Nikolai Khabibulin, who had 421 postseason saves in 2009, were unable to play in Game 5 due to injuries.
The loss was the Blackhawks' fourth in the best of seven series, and Game 5's final score of 2-1 simultaneously sent the Red Wings on to the Stanley Cup Finals and ended the Blackhawks' memorable season.
While their season did not end with a trip to the Stanley Cup Finals, the Blackhawks still had a season worthy of Chicago sports fans. The team bested their 2007-2008 final record 40-34-08 with their 2008-2009 regular season record of 46-24-12. The development bumped the team up 16 points over a single season, an improvement that helped the Hawks secure a playoff spot.
Their improved play revitalized their fan base and carried the team past the Flames in the first round, the Vancouver Canucks in the conference semifinals and into the Conference Finals for the first time since 1995.
After the game, Blackhawks Head Coach Joel Quenneville reflected on his team's season, and expressed his gratitude for the players. "I think that we should all be proud of the year we had, it was a fun, great group to work with," Quenneville told the press in Detroit. "These kids have been great all year long."