Source: USA TODAY
DETROIT – Before the Chicago Blackhawks-Detroit Red Wings series started, the question was whether Detroit’s power play would work against top-seeded Chicago’s effective penalty killing.
The Blackhawks have indeed shut down Detroit’s power play, but inexplicably they haven’t been able to out-produce them at full strength.
“Detroit doesn’t surprise anybody anymore, I don’t think,” Chicago defenseman Brent Seabrook said. ”They know how to win. They’ve been there before. They’ve won a lot of games. They’ve won a lot of big games. We’ve got to come out with a better effort.”
Third-liner Gustav Nyquist and fourth-liner Drew Miller scored goals 31 seconds apart in the second period to break a scoreless to spark the No. 7-seeded Red Wings, who lost all four games to the No. 1 overall Blackhawks in the regular season.
The Red Wings hold a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven Western Conference semifinal, which resumes Thursday in Detroit.
“I feel like we can play with these guys,” said Detroit role player Patrick Eaves, who assisted on Miller’s goal. “We know they’re a great team and we have to respect that, respect their skill. But we’ve been getting better.”
After struggling in five-on-five situations in the playoffs over the first eight games, the Red Wings have outscored Chicago 7-2 at full strength over the past two games.
“We probably had one of our better game of the playoffs tonight, even though we lost,” said Chicago defenseman Duncan Keith. “I think we’re going to take some confidence away.”
Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard made some big stops among his 39 saves, including a memorable one against Patrick Sharp on a breakaway early in the third period.
“That was probably the fastest playoff game I’ve ever been a part of,” said Howard.
Not long after that save, Niklas Hjalmarsson checked Johan Franzen from behind into the boards. There was no penalty called. As Franzen lay on the ice, the puck quickly was turned up ice by Chicago and Patrick Kane scored on a breakaway.
Right after that play, the Blackhawks appeared to tie the game, but the goal was waved off because Chicago’s Andrew Shaw was judged to be in the crease.
At 6:46 of the third period, Pavel Datsyuk beat Chicago goalie Corey Crawford with a quick-release laser blast that went in and out of the net before Crawford could react.
“We have really good leadership … and a lot of kids who work hard,” Detroit coach Mike Babcock said.
The Blackhawks did stop Detroit’s four power-play opportunities, meaning they are 28-for-28 in killing penalties during the postseason.
Nyquist scored at 7:59 of the first period on a play that brought together both speed and patience. Taking Damien Brunner’s lob pass in stride, Nyquist cut inside past Chicago defenseman Brent Seabrook and waited until Crawford made his move. When Crawford was sprawled, Nyquist calmly fired the puck into the empty net.
A short time later, Chicago defenseman Michal Rozsival made a poor clearing pass that went directly to Detroit forward Cory Emmerton. He got the puck to Patrick Eaves, whose shot was stopped by Crawford. The rebound ended up in the crease. Miller crashed the net and drove the puck over the line.
“I think this series is a long way from over,” Toews said. “And they know it, too.”
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