By Brad Gardner
The Chicago Blackhawks made it three straight wins as they captured round five (of six) against the Detroit Red Wings, grinding out another 2-1 win against the Central Division leaders. The ‘Hawks have now earned points in all five games against the Wings this season, earning a 3-0-2 record in the process. On Sunday, goals from Patrick Sharp and Patrick Kane and another steady performance from Ray Emery earned the team two important points in the standings.
The Blackhawks made good on an early tripping penalty to Kyle Quincey, taking a 1-0 lead on Patrick Sharp’s power play goal 3:17 into opening period. Sharp’s slap shot from the blue line appeared to deflect off of defenseman Niklas Kronwall in front of the net and past Jimmy Howard. The goal was Sharp’s 25th of the season
Kronwall caught a break of his own a few minutes later, when he sent a slap shot from the blue line that beat Emery and tied the game up at one goal each. Emery’s vision was blocked by defenseman Johnny Oduya, leaving him helpless against the only goal of the game for the Wings.
The Red Wings were even shorter on the bench after the loss of defenseman Jakub Kindl in the first and replaced starter Jimmy Howard in net with back-up goaltender Joey MacDonald for the start of the second period. Detroit still had a quick start to the period, forcing Emery to make some saves and earning an early power play after Dylan Olsen was whistled for tripping Jiri Hudler.
Olsen’s penalty and a later roughing call to Duncan Keith were both killed off by the Chicago PK unit, which managed to keep the puck out of their net despite plenty of offensive zone time for the Wings.
Patrick Kane gave the Blackhawks the lead late in the second period after Sharp and Marian Hossa combined to force a Detroit turnover. Sharp centered the pass to Kane in front of the net and he was able to deke around MacDonald and slide the puck in behind him for a 2-1 lead.
With Emery fighting off some of his saves, the defense picked up their goaltender on several occasions. Seabrook got a stick on a loose puck against Detroit’s power play early in the third to clear a dangerous rebound. The team also blocked a total of 13 shots – five in the third period – in front of their goalie. Emery was able to stop all seven shots that got to him in the final frame, shutting the door against a few more flurries of chances from the Wings.
– It was a strong effort from the ‘Hawks up and down the line-up. Patrick Kane had another active game and was rewarded with the game-winner in front of the net. Patrick Sharp was credited with seven of Chicago’s 18 shots in the game, including several high, hard ones that MacDonald struggled to control. He finished with two points for the second straight game on the road trip.
– Dave Bolland‘s line with Bryan Bickell and Andrew Shaw was effective again on the forecheck and in finishing their checks. Bolland was the only Blackhawk center to win a majority of his draws, finishing with 11 wins in 17 total faceoffs. Bickell was credited with another four hits in the game while Shaw dropped the gloves against Brendan Smith in the second period, exchanging a handful of shots with the defenseman after a scrum around the Wings’ net.
– The penalty kill took care of all four power plays for Detroit, while the ‘Hawks power play converted for the second consecutive game.
– Ray Emery finished with 23 saves on 24 shots. He did not make all his saves look easy and fought off a fair amount of chances in the first period especially. He came up with several timely stops and caught a couple breaks off the iron in his third consecutive win.
– The pairings of Keith-Seabrook and Leddy-Oduya skated the entire third period, save for one brief shift for the third pairing. Oduya had his highest time on ice total as a Blackhawk with 25:25. Seabrook led all skaters with 28:04.
– Jonathan Toews missed his seventh consecutive game with an upper-body injury. His presence continues to be missed, particularly in the faceoff circle where the ‘Hawks won only 43% of their draws Sunday against Detroit.
– Detroit skated without captain Nicklas Lidstrom, top center Pavel Datsyuk, and defenseman Jonathan Ericsson. Kindl left the game early, leaving Detroit with five defensemen, including new faces Kyle Quincey and Brendan Smith, to shoulder the load.
– The ‘Hawks will visit the St. Louis Blues Tuesday night for a 7pm central start before returning home for a three-game homestand beginning Friday.
In addition to covering the Blackhawks for TheThirdManIn.com, Brad is also the Blackhawks correspondent at HockeysFuture.com.
**Brad Gardner will be our guest on this Wednesday night’s TTMI podcast to discuss the Blackhawks prospects up and down the organizational chart, from Rockford to junior to college hockey. Join us live at 8pm this Wednesday night March 7th at BlogTalkRadio.com/TheThirdManIn for some Puck Chatter.