The Detroit Red Wings were one win away from the Western Conference Finals heading into Game 5. They were also one win away heading into Game 6.
Now they head into Game 7 still one win away, but now also one loss away from elimination at the hands of the Chicago Blackhawks, who will have a rowdy crowd at the United Center trying to help them complete a comeback from 3-1 down in the series.
Not only were the Red Wings knocking on the door of a series win in Game 6, but they also carried a 2-1 lead into the third period. A furious Blackhawks rally in the third period turned the game around, though, and Chicago stunned the Joe Louis Arena crowd with a 4-3 win that extended the series.
Now momentum is on the Blackhawks' side, an advantage they probably don't need. After all, they are the Presidents Trophy winners and entered the series as heavy favorites, plus Jonathan Toews has gotten going, scoring in Game 5 and adding two assists in Game 6 to wake him from his postseason slumber.
All things are going the Blackhawks' way now, which seemed impossible four days day ago when they had lost three consecutive games for the first time in the season. But here they are, on the verge of a finishing off a comeback, and sending the Red Wings home for the summer.
Game time: 8 p.m. ET
TV: NBC Sports Network, CBC, RDS
Can Jimmy Howard recapture the magic?
The Red Wings won three straight and jumped out to a 3-1 series lead in large part because of Jimmy Howard. The goaltender stopped 86 of 88 shots in Games 2, 3 and 4, but he's come back down to Earth in the last two games and, not coincidentally, Detroit has lost them both. Asking a goaltender to be superhuman is probably unfair, but on the road in Game 7, the Red Wings need Howard to put his Superman cape on.
Will Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg wake up?
Part of the reason that the Wings have had to lean on Howard is the lackluster play of Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg, at least in the offensive zone. The two have done their duties defensively, but Datsyuk has just two points in the first six games of the series and Zetterberg has yet to score. The Wings don't have a chance of beating the Presidents Trophy winners without production from their two best players.
Can the Blackhawks' penalty kill keep it up?
To call the Blackhawks' penalty kill dominant wouldn't accurately convey just how good it has been in the playoffs. After holding Detroit scoreless in three attempts with the man advantage in Game 6, Chicago have now killed an amazing 38 of 39 penalties in the postseason. If the Blackhawks can keep the Red Wings off the board on special teams again, they should be on their way to the Western Conference finals.