Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION
Posted: 05/16/2013 1:00 AM | Comments: 0
CHICAGO -- Maybe it was the extra rest, or another raucous crowd at the United Center. Maybe it was just the resumption of one of the NHL's biggest rivalries.
Whatever it was, the Chicago Blackhawks finally found that extra gear they talked about for days.
Johnny Oduya and Marcus Kruger scored in the third period, Corey Crawford made 20 saves and the Blackhawks beat the Detroit Red Wings 4-1 in the opener of their second-round playoff series Wednesday night.
"Much better from our prior series," coach Joel Quenneville said. "I thought what we're talking about in our team game was in place. Had some pace, had some speed, zone time, and I thought everybody contributed."
In the wake of Chicago's five-game victory over Minnesota in the first round, Quenneville talked about a higher level of intensity, and each of his biggest stars echoed his comments. The response was a dominant final two periods in the Blackhawks' first game in the Western Conference semifinals since they won the Stanley Cup in 2010.
Marian Hossa had the opening goal in the first, and Patrick Sharp finished with an empty-netter and two assists to give him nine points in the post-season.
"I thought it was our best game of the playoffs, no question," Sharp said.
Jimmy Howard had 38 stops in a terrific performance, but Detroit still lost to rival Chicago for the eighth straight time dating to last season.
"I think in the first it was pretty even, but then I think in the second and third they looked like they had a little more energy than we did," Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg said. "It's going to be nice to have a day off tomorrow and practice and then looking forward to Game 2."
The series resumes on Saturday afternoon at the United Center.
The 75th all-time playoff game between the Blackhawks and Red Wings was tied at 1 after two periods, and Howard made a great stop on a breakaway by Dave Bolland 4 1/2 minutes into the third.
Chicago kept working and went in front to stay on a heady play by Oduya. He drifted in from the point and sent Sharp's pass past Howard on the glove side with 12 minutes left.
"Getting the win is the only thing that actually matters," Oduya said. "Like I said, anyone could have scored that goal at that point. We had a lot of chances and I'm lucky I got it in there."
Kruger then jumped on a loose puck and sent a backhander into the upper right corner to make it 3-1. That was more than enough for Crawford, who caught a break when Damien Brunner's rebound attempt went off the crossbar and straight down before Brent Seabrook swept it away with about three minutes left.
The opener of the 16th playoff series between the Original Six teams was the first game for Chicago since it eliminated Minnesota last Thursday. Detroit closed out Anaheim with a 3-2 win in Game 7 on Sunday night, taking the final two games of the series against the second-seeded Ducks.
Despite the long break, there was no sign of rust for the Blackhawks. The Red Wings skated right with Chicago at the start, but they couldn't keep up at the end of the game and coach Mike Babcock said they were looking forward to a day off.
"We're not trying to take anything away from them," he said. "They were better than us. The score tonight was more than fair as far as I'm concerned. They were better."
The Blackhawks struck first in the first playoff game between the teams since Detroit won the 2009 Western Conference final. With Gustav Nyquist in the box for hooking, Sharp forced a turnover along the boards and Jonathan Toews sent the puck to Hossa, who one-timed it past Howard at 9:03.
-- The Associated Press
Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 16, 2013 D1
Having problems with the form?Contact Us Directly
Hoffman leads Senators in win over Ducks
Hutchinson leads Jets to win over Bruins
Islanders edge Red Wings 2-1
Kinkaid wins first, Devils snap slide with 3-2
Detroit's Howard leaves with lower body injury
Howe's family reports rapid improvement
Gibbons injured, Blue Jackets recall Wennberg, Goloubef
Kings defenceman Robyn Regehr on injured reserve
Predators recall Stalberg, put Paul Gaustad on IR
Penguins Olli Maatta tests positive for mumps
Montoya has mixed emotions about Cuba
LA Kings erase 3-goal deficit, move past Blues 6-4
Tennyson, Goodrow lead Sharks past Oilers
Beleskey leads Ducks in 2-1 win over Habs
Fehr's OT goal lifts Capitals over Blue Jackets
Bolland gets winner in SO as Panthers beat Flyers
Comeau leads Penguins over Avalanche 1-0, OT
Faulk has goal, assist in Canes' win over Leafs
Jets' ailing defence suffers another blow
NHL seeks to reduce its carbon footprint
Oilers, Barons end affiliation agreement
Predators place F Viktor Stalberg on waivers
Penguins star Crosby nearing return from mumps
Senators release Lazar to play for Canada
Vet looks to return to Flyers lineup
Lehtonen the difference early for Stars
Lehtonen, Stars shutout Canucks 2-0
Eriksson's OT goal gives Bruins 3-2 win vs. Wild
Ottawa's Anderson makes 34 saves, blanks Devils
Habs face choices as Galchenyuk shines
NHL fines Predators forward Neal for diving
Crosby returns to ice, 3 Penguins tested for mumps
Sabres return Grigorenko to AHL Rochester
Panthers outlast Capitals in longest NHL shootout
Hamonic helping kids heal
Coyotes pull out 2-1 win over Oilers in OT
Rick Nash powers Rangers past Flames 5-2