DETROIT — The Detroit Red Wings had the Chicago Blackhawks in the perfect spot — with time winding down and their backs to the wall.
With that, the Red Wings had a prime shot at putting a widely-noted stretch of hockey in jeopardy.
Yet, with two minutes left in the third period, an errant play by the Red Wings on a penalty kill set up Patrick Kane’s game-tying goal and allowed the Blackhawks to continue a 22-game stretch in which they have gone without a regulation loss (19-0-3) and have earned at least a point in the Western Conference standings.
Kane then put away Chicago’s 2-1 shootout win on Sunday at Joe Louis Arena. As Chicago’s second shooter, Kane skated in on goal, slowed down, then pulled up in front of Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard. Kane picked up his right foot, then worked the puck between his forehand and backhand before scoring on Howard.
“I didn’t think he really had anything, and I thought I was right there with him,” said Howard, who finished with 32 saves. “It did go off my blocker but I didn’t get enough of it.”
Kane, meanwhile, plotted his shootout strategy against Howard.
"I knew I was going to slow down and see what he was going to give me,” Kane said. “I planned to slow down earlier to see if he would give me a different look, but I thought he backed up pretty far, so I just tried to fire it low blocker.
"Ended up working out."
Detroit couldn’t answer. On its final attempt, Henrik Zetterberg shot into the chest of Chicago goalie Corey Crawford to end the game.
“We had a lot of good plays in the first part of the game and we had the puck a lot, but the guys did a lot better, for their resiliency and perseverance,” Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said.
In a scoreless first period in which the Blackhawks outshot the Red Wings 9-3, Detroit killed off a pair of penalties but went more than 11 minutes between its second and third shots of the game — Crawford made a save on Niklas Kronwall at 8:31 of the first, then he stopped of Pavel Datsyuk with eight seconds left in the period.
If puck possession defined the first period, then goaltending defined the second.
Howard stopped a flurry of shots in the sixth minute, including a pair of saves on Chicago’s Brandon Saad.
Crawford, meanwhile, held his ground with five minutes left in the period, stopping all three shots on Detroit’s only power play of the second as the Red Wings outshot Chicago 15-12.
Tomas Tatar gave the Red Wings a 1-0 lead at 2:43 of the third when he beat Crawford off Joakim Andersson’s feed from behind the net.
But Chicago tied the game on Kane’s power-play goal, after Jonathan Ericsson took a delay-of-game penalty with 2:25 left in regulation.
With Kyle Quincey unable to clear the zone for Detroit, Blackhawks left wing Viktor Stalberg pushed the puck to Kane, who one-timed the puck past Howard 23 seconds into the power play to guarantee the Blackhawks at least one point for the 22nd time in a row.
“We missed a key interception on the penalty kill, and while it might not mean much to you, to me, it can’t happen,” Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said.
Ultimately, Chicago’s resiliency left the Red Wings in a certain awe of their opponent’s consistency.
“It’s impressive,” Howard said. “They’re finding different ways to do it every single night. Two minutes there, and I wish we could have gotten it.
“It’s just the breaks. It’s tough to swallow, but at the same time, you’ve got to pick your teammates up, and we weren’t able to do it.”
Contact Rachel Lenzi at: firstname.lastname@example.org, 419-724-6510 or on Twitter @RLenziBlade.