Was this the 2013 Blackhawks' defining moment?
''Yeah, if we pass this round, for sure,'' Hawks defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson said after the Hawks rallied from a 2-1 deficit in the third period to beat the Red Wings 4-3 in Game 6 of the Western Conference semifinals.
''But [Game 7 is] going to be the toughest game to win. [The Wings are] really good defensively. It's tough to get a lot of goals at 'em. We just have to try to create a lot of chances and just maybe power plays can get a couple of goals again and hopefully we can end up going to the third round.''
After a lot of uncertainty and adversity, parallels to the Hawks 2010 championship season kicked into high gear Monday night, when the Hawks eschewed an easier path to forcing Game 7 against the Red Wings and instead decided to do things the hard way.
After taking a 1-0 lead in the first period on Marian Hossa's goal, the Hawks could have carried the momentum against a Red Wings team feeling the pressure of having to win at home and systematically taken control of the game.
Instead, they frittered away that momentum in the first period before allowing a tying goal by Patrick Eaves with 1:09 left in the period. And they increased their degree-of-difficulty by wilting in the second period, with Corey Crawford -- outstanding through most of the postseason -- allowing the almost perfunctory soft goal on a long fluttering shot by Joakim Andersson to give the Wings a 2-1 lead heading into the third period.
As was the case in 2010, the Hawks waited until the story of their demise was being written before responding. Michal Handzus scored to tie the game in the first minute of the third period. Bryan Bickell scored off a loose puck in the crease to give the Hawks the lead. And Michael Frolik turned a steal into a breakaway and then a penalty shot, converting in nifty fashion to complete a three-goal barrage in the first 10 minutes of the period for a 4-2 lead that, after some trepidation, held up to send the series back to the United Center for Game 7 on Wednesday.
''We got a huge win. But we're not celebrating too much,'' Hjalmarsson said. ''We know what Detroit did against Anaheim. They won Game 7 [on the road]. So we have a lot of respect for them. We're going to come out and try to give our best performance of the playoffs.''
Typically, the Hawks needed the most dire situation of the playoffs to respond.
''We just realized it was a do-or-die situation,'' said Jonathan Toews, who assisted on Bickell's goal when he dug out a puck from the boards and fired it on net. ''We weren't playing our best hockey and we were very conscious of that and it was the toughest game of the series, especially when they went up 2-1. They were flying and got the crowd going. But credit to our guys for not getting fazed by that. A huge third period.''