By Brad Vandenberk
On a cold afternoon in Detroit, the Blackhawks invaded Joe Louis Arena for a 12:30 ET start. This lone NHL afternoon match was viewed nationally and did not disappoint.
The Hawks came in riding their 21 game point streak and the Red Wings were looking to play spoiler and break that streak.
With the talk of re-alignment throughout the NHL, the Red Wings will move over to the Eastern Conference and only see the Hawks 2 times a year versus the regular 6 times. This could be a big blow to the already great rivalry between these 2 clubs.
Marian Hossa played in his 1000th game, etching his name among the elite in the NHL. Dave Bolland missed his 5th consecutive game with an upper body injury. Coach Q reported that Bolland could be returning to the line up as early as Tuesday at home versus the Wild. Corey Crawford, who left Thursday’s game after the first period, got the start with the Red Wings giving the net to Jimmy Howard. For the first time this season Coach Q dressed 7 defensemen placing Sheldon Brookbank on the fourth line wing position. The scratches were Jamal Mayers and Brandon Bollig.
The Hawks opened up the period dominating the fore check. Jonathan Toews had a great chance out front but had his stick lifted last minute. The Hawks get the early advantage as Patrick Sharp gets man handled heading toward the net. Red Wings defensemen Brendan Smith throws Sharp into the net, dislodging it from its moorings. They both toss a few punches and Smith heads to the box for Interference.
During the ensuing power play, both Sharp and Brent Seabrook had great chances to light the lamp, but Howard stands strong and Detroit kills the penalty.
The fans at the Joe let Hossa know how they felt raining boo’s whenever the 1000th game-man had the puck. Crawford needed to make a big save early on a Jakub Kindl’s point blank shot. At the 11:09 mark of the period, Justin Abdelkader finds his way to the penalty box for interference. The Hawks maintain the zone but can’t solve Howard once again. Red Wings get stuck in a phase of icing the puck. This demonstrates that the Hawks are too fast for the unsuspecting Wings. Both teams have their fair share of chances to take an early lead. Crawford and Howard were playing very well. As the period ends, Pavel Datsyuk breaks in a rips one off Crawford’s mask rattling the bird cage. Crawford was seen skating to the bench after the horn sounded, shaking his head and adjusting his mask. The Hawks outshot the Wings 9 – 3.
Detroit came out hard to open the second. They began to mimic the Hawks for check and get behind the goal line controlling the puck. Bryan Bickell gets away with a blatant high stick on Jordin Tootoo. Dan Carcillo also gets away with one, tripping a wing defenseman at center ice well behind the play.
Hossa has a beauty opportunity point blank but Howard gets the crowd roaring. Howard needed to stay sharp. The Hawks have the puck for about a minute of offensive zone time with Andrew Shaw, Michael Frolik and Brandon Saad all getting scoring chances, with a mad scramble in front of the Wings goaltender.
Having 7 defensemen on the roster, allowed coach Q to tinker with his line up throughout the game. Carcillo was back on the top line with Toews and Hossa. Carcillo comes out of the corner and while falling down throws a puck on net. Crawford didn’t want to have this streak broken on his shoulder as he makes a spectacular save on Johan Franzen.
Then it was time for the Red Wings’ power play to go to work, as Carcillo gets called for hooking. Crawford was the reason the period ended tied at 0s. He made some timely saves during the man advantage. He stopped Dan Cleary and Franzen once again. The Wings picked up their game and started to catch the Hawks with shots on net as well as scoring opportunities. The Hawks only had a 21-15 shot advantage going into the third.
It wasn’t long into the third when the fans got to witness their first goal of the afternoon. Just under 3 minutes in, Nick Leddy races back behind Crawford to retrieve the puck. Patrick Eaves battles Leddy behind the net scooping the puck over to Joakim Andersson who spots Tomas Tatar out in front. He fires a shot over Crawford and its 1-0 Detroit with 17:17 left in the game.
After the goal, Crawford came back and absolutely stones Datsyuk with a glove save. Even the Detroit crowd went wild for this save. It was already being called the save of the day with 8 more games left to be played.
Detroit heads back to the power play with Niklas Hjalmarsson heading to the box for tripping. Crawford again was huge making a more great saves. It was at this stage that the Wings had gained momentum and took over the advantage in shots as well. Johnny Oduya makes a fantastic defensive play, diving and getting a stick on Datsyuk forcing the magician off the puck.
Both goalies were flashing the leather on either end of the ice.
Just as the Wings think they have a chance to end this glorious Hawks streak, Jonathan Ericsson sends the puck over the glass, giving the Hawks a power play with 2:25 remaining. Sharp wires a shot that Howard saves, but leaves a rebound on the edge of the crease. As the Wings try to clear it Viktor Stalberg uses his active stick and wins the battle getting the puck over to a wide open Patrick Kane. Kane makes no mistake and sends the puck into the top shelf tying the game 1-1.
Later, Franzen has a golden opportunity to win the game but rings it off the goal post. As the period is about to expire Niklas Kronwall tries to clear and also sends the puck over the glass. This would give the Hawks a power play to end the game and allow 31 seconds of 4 on 3 in OT.
The streak continues at 22 as we get to see an extra period of hockey.
The Hawks were unable to end it early like they did on Friday night against Columbus. Howard stood tall. Franzen gets his 3rd chance of the night to end the game but Crawford makes the save with his shoulder. At this stage Franzen tried to get into the net minders head stopping at the goal to have a quick chat with Crawford, letting him know he was lucky and that he had him beat. Overtime solves nothing and it’s time for the shootout.
Datsyuk is the first shooter for the Wings. He tries to go 5-hole on Crawford but is denied.
Toews leaps over the boards for the Hawks. Howard robs him with a glove save.
Damien Brunner tries to fake a shot and slide it past Crawford on the backhand. The puck gets away from him with no shot taken.
Kane is next; he glides in slowly and with a couple of shuffle steps he fires past Howard’s blocker.
Henrik Zetterberg tries to even the score but Crawford saves the day and the game as the Hawks win their 19 of the season.
-This playoff type game saw the Hawks and Wings even the shots on net at 33.
-Duncan Keith led all Hawks with 24:43 of TOI with his D partner Seabrook earning 23:06.
-Toews won 10 of 18 face offs, Marcus Kruger was 50% going 8 for 16, Shaw only won 1 of 6
-It was different seeing 7 defensemen dress; there may be a story behind that one with Brookbank only seeing 3:33 of ice time all day.
-Corey Crawford now leads all NHL goal tenders with a 1.41 GAA and 10-0-3
-Hawks continue their streak at 22 games gaining at least a single point. They haven’t lost a regular season game in regulation since March 25, 2012
-The next team to challenge the Hawks will be the Minnesota Wild who comes to the UC on Tuesday.