By Jon Fromi
The Chicago Blackhawks lost their fourth game in a row since the start of the New Year, falling to the Detroit Red Wings in overtime by a score of 3-2.
An early lead fell by the wayside in the closing minutes in a game that was not without its share of controversy. Also noteworthy was the lack of Patrick Sharp for the last two periods as Detroit evened up the season series at a game apiece.
Chicago got on the board early via the power play, breaking a 0-for-15 slump with 3:35 gone in the opening period. Marian Hossa collected the puck off of a Dave Bolland faceoff win and got the puck to Nick Leddy. Leddy returned the favor and Hossa threw the puck toward the net. Bolland sent the rebound off of Nicklas Lidstrom’s skate and past Ty Conklin to give the Blackhawks a 1-0 lead.
Seconds later, Hossa got another scoring play started, bringing the puck into the Detroit zone and putting a shot on goal. In the ensuing battle behind the net for the puck, Michael Frolik tipped a loose puck to the face off circle. Sharp gathered it in, skated to the front of the net, and slapped the puck past Conklin for a 2-0 Blackhawks advantage less than five minutes into the game.
The Red Wings cut the lead in half thanks to a pair of retaliatory penalties on Andrew Brunette and Brent Seabrook Seabrook’s slash on Tomas Holmstrom came after Holmstrom tripped the ‘Hawks defenseman into a Niklas Lidstrom slapper. As a brief 5-on-3 was expiring, Henrik Zetterberg found Valtteri Filppula for a tap in with 6:31 to play. The score remained 2-1 going into the first intermission.
The Blackhawks had another shot at a power play when Detroit had too many men on the ice with 13:24 left in the second, but failed to convert. Niklas Kronwall interfered with Brunette with 8:03 left but the Red Wings killed the penalty.
The Chicago defense limited Detroit to six shots in the middle frame. The biggest threat was turned away by Crawford midway through the period, both with and without his stick. Thanks to an improved defensive effort, the ‘Hawks maintained the 2-1 lead through the first 40 minutes.
In the ninth minute of the third, Steve Montador got to the front of the net and sent a Brunette rebound off the right post. The puck hit Conklin’s right leg and drifted toward the goal line. Kronwell grabbed the puck to prevent it from going in, leading to a pause in action while the play was reviewed.
With insufficient evidence that the puck had crossed the goal line before Kronwell closed his hand on it, a penalty shot was awarded. Joel Quenneville opted to let the shot be taken by Jimmy Hayes. Conklin turned away the attempt with his stick for a huge save that proved huge a few minutes later.
With less than five minutes remaining, Zetterberg got a shot on goal that Crawford couldn’t absorb. Daniel Cleary knocked the loose puck back toward the net. It slid slowly behind Crawford and a falling Nick Leddy to knot the game 2-2. Kane got off a shot in the closing seconds that Conklin sent into the corner and the teams prepared for five extra minutes.
Three minutes into the overtime, Pavel Datsyuk fired a shot on Crawford that bounced in front of the net. Ericsson backhanded the rebound back on goal. The puck skidded to the side of the net just out of Crawford’s reach. Datsuyk flipped the puck over the prone Chicago goalie, off Leddy’s chest, and into the net to end the game.
-Calling Hayes’s number was a hunch by Quenneville. With Montador, Sean O’Donnell, Brunette and Jamal Mayers on the ice with him at the time of the penalty, however, forcing Conklin to defend an unknown shooter like Hayes wasn’t the worst idea in the world.
-Andrew Shaw played on the third line and was the recipient of some rough play. Jonathan Ericsson caught him with a stick in a tussle in front of the Detroit net that opened up the cut he suffered earlier in the week. It could have been called a penalty but wasn’t. In the second period, Kronwell delivered a hard but legal hit as Shaw was getting control of a puck along the boards. The rookie’s toughness was on full display as he logged another night of solid, energetic play.
-Sharp looked to receive a pair of slashes to the body from the stick of Jiri Hudler just before his first period goal. Sharp was not on the bench in the second period and the team declared him out for the remainder of the game with an upper body injury. Sharp will be evaluated Monday, according to Quenneville.
-Despite the loss, the Blackhawks managed to claim a point and force a three-way tie in the Central Division between them, the Red Wings and Blues.
-Filppula committed a pretty blatant cross check of Leddy on the equalizer that prevented any chance of him clearing the puck once it got past Crawford. Quenneville was also hot about a non call in overtime when Detroit appeared to have too many men on the ice.
-Filppula was also the first star of the game. Hossa was the game’s second star with two assists. Cleary was third star, despite Conklin’s 29-save effort on the night.