DETROIT — The Detroit Red Wings didn’t just savor the comforts of their home rink. They capitalized on that advantage in a 3-1 win over the Chicago Blackhawks.
Two days after a convincing win against the Blackhawks in Chicago, the Red Wings brought the momentum back to Joe Louis Arena, but they needed nearly 28 minutes to assert themselves in Game 3 of the Western Conference semifinal series.
When they finally did that, Detroit scored a pair of second-period goals during a stretch of 31 seconds. The Red Wings appeared to lose breathing room in the third when Patrick Kane cut the lead to 2-1, but a minute after that officials waved off an apparent goal by Andrew Shaw.
Then the Red Wings answered on Pavel Datsyuk’s third goal of the playoffs, a wrist shot from the left circle less than seven minutes into the third.
“After our second goal, I think we kind of took a step back, but I think in the third, we came out hard again,” said Detroit center Gustav Nyquist, who scored Detroit’s first goal. “We have to win battles if we’re going to have a chance against this team.”
Jonathan Ericsson echoed another Detroit defenseman when looking long-term at the series.
“We don’t want to get too high or too low,” he said. “That’s what Nicklas Lidstrom always used to say. That’s what we can’t do. We just have to stay the course.”
RED WINGS NOTEBOOK: Magic of 'The Joe' not lost on Chicago
Entering Thursday’s Game 4 at Joe Louis Arena, Detroit may have rendered the Blackhawks fallible.
Chicago won the NHL’s President’s Trophy after finishing with the most points in the regular season but now finds itself in a precarious position — down 2-1 in the best-of-seven series.
“We battled for a lot of our chances and they just didn’t go in,” said Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith, whose team outshot the Red Wings 40-30. “We’ve just got to stick with it. We have to use this little bit of adversity to get better as a group, and I think it will.”
The Blackhawks last lost eeeeeeeeeeeeback-to-back games in regulation on March 20 and 25, a 4-2 loss at Anaheim and a 5-4 loss at home to Los Angeles; Chicago also lost 3-2 in a shootout to Phoenix on April 20 and 3-1 in regulation to Vancouver two days later.
“We haven’t had a lot of adversity this year,” Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford said. “We just have to dig deep and battle.”
After a scoreless first period that included several chippy moments, Chicago managed only two shots in the first five minutes of the second, despite holding onto the puck for the bulk of that time. Then the Red Wings answered with two goals in a span of 31 seconds.
“That was a long one,” Miller said of the first five minutes in which he played a 3-minute, 15-second shift. “When you get stuck like that it’s tough to get off [the ice]. Everyone was blocking shots and trying to get the puck out. Jimmy [Howard] was making big saves.
“You have to go through shifts like that. Then Gus made a big play and got the momentum going.”
Nyquist entered Chicago’s zone and stickhandled past Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook at the right circle, then pulled Crawford (27 saves) out of position from the left side of the net to give the Red Wings a 1-0 lead at 7:49.
Thirty-one seconds later, Drew Miller tapped Patrick Eaves’ rebound into an otherwise open net, giving the Red Wings a two-goal lead after they capitalized on a turnover.
“It ended up being huge on the scoresheet with Gus scoring his goal and Millsie scoring out goal,” Eaves said. “But we need all four lines in the playoffs. Everyone has a deep team at this point in the playoffs.”
Less than five minutes into the third, Patrick Sharp played puck off the wall in the neutral zone behind Ericsson and was stopped in a one-on-one situation against Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard (39 saves). Seconds later, after Niklas Hjalmarsson hit Johan Franzen — a play that wasn’t called for a penalty but was contested by the Red Wings — Kane pushed off Brendan Smith at the other end of the ice and beat Howard one-on-one to cut Detroit’s lead to 2-1.
A minute later, officials waved off Shaw’s apparent goal, ruling that he was standing in the crease — a call that Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said he disagreed with, saying that Shaw didn’t touch Howard —and Datsyuk’s goal cushioned Detroit’s lead.
“I don’t know, I wasn’t down there so I don’t know exactly what happened, but I find it hard to believe from what I saw that our player restricted the goaltender from making a save,” Chicago captain Jonathan Toews said of the disallowed goal. “The puck came from the same side and he was against his post.
“I don’t understand that one, but I guess we’ll see the replay. Either way, when you get a goal called back it a frustrating thing, but give ourselves credit, we stuck with it and worked hard and we stayed positive the whole game.”
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