Detroit's Pavel Datsyuk controls the puck past Chicago's Michal Handzus Wednesday night in the Western Conference semifinals.
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CHICAGO — Johnny Oduya and Marcus Kruger scored in the third period, Corey Crawford made 20 saves, and the Chicago Blackhawks beat the Detroit Red Wings 4-1 in the opener of their second-round playoff series Wednesday night.
Chicago dominated the final two periods in its first game in the Western Conference semifinals since it won the Stanley Cup in 2010. Marian Hossa scored the opening goal, and Patrick Sharp had an empty-netter and two assists to give him nine points in the playoffs.
Jimmy Howard finished with 38 stops in a terrific performance, but Detroit still lost to rival Chicago for the eighth consecutive time dating to last season.
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 4½ 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. 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 it was swept 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.
The Blackhawks struck first, taking advantage of the first power-play opportunity of the game. 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.
Detroit needed less than two minutes to respond, tying it when Brunner poked in a rebound for his third career playoff goal. He also contributed three assists in the first round against the Ducks.
The Blackhawks killed off two power plays created by penalties on Andrew Shaw. They killed off another one when Nick Leddy was sent off for delay of game in the second period, making them a perfect 20 for 20 on the penalty kill in the postseason and sinking Detroit to 1 for 18 on power plays against Chicago, including the regular season.
After Leddy's penalty, the Blackhawks controlled most of the action for a while. They had a 17-5 advantage in shots in the period. They just couldn't solve Howard, who made a great glove stop on a wide-open Hossa with 6:39 remaining. Detroit also killed off two Chicago power plays to keep it tied headed to the third.