DETROIT – Somehow you knew through this up and down season it would come to this.
The Blackhawks won't know until the final day of the regular season on Sunday if they will make the playoffs and have the chance to defend the Stanley Cup.
Friday's 4-2 win over the Red Wings at Joe Luis Arena was critical, but now the Hawks need at least 1 point on Sunday in a rematch with Detroit at the United Center to get in the tournament.
Should the Hawks lose, they would then need Dallas to lose at Minnesota on Sunday night to get in or the entire season will have been a waste.
Only one playoff spot is left in the Western Conference after the developments of Friday when Nashville, Anaheim and Phoenix clinched berths. Vancouver, San Jose, Detroit and Los Angeles were already in.
The order of finish remains wide open after the three division winners: Vancouver, San Jose and Detroit. Tiebreakers likely will be involved come Sunday night.
The Hawks dominated much of Friday's game, starting with a great first shift by the line of Jonathan Toews, Patrick Sharp and Marian Hossa that resulted in a Brent Seabrook goal 27 seconds into the first period.
“They came out hungry and more determined to win,” Detroit's Dan Cleary said. “They realized their season was on the line.”
The Red Wings are stumbling into the playoffs, 4-5-2 in their last 11 games. Expect a seriously better effort from them on Sunday.
“Their urgency was at a different level that ours was,” Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “There's no excuse for us. They were playing for their life and we knew that before the game.”