By Brad Vandenberk
This game needs no introduction! The Chicago Blackhawks are on the ropes playing game 5 at home in the UC trying to stave off elimination, trailing 3-1 in the series. The Detroit Red Wings have stifled the Hawks’ offence, forcing frustration on the face of Jonathan Toews, who took 3 penalties in game four. It was time for the Hawks to show why they were the best team in the NHL through the regular shortened season.
Coach Q loaded up his line up and put Toews, Patrick Kane and Patrick Sharp together. Marian Hossa found himself playing with Michal Handzus and Bryan Bickell. Andrew Shaw centered Viktor Stalberg and Brandon Saad. Dave Bolland was on the fourth line, not playing center but the wing alongside Marcus Kruger and Michal Frolik. The defense pairing also changed with Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook reuniting. Niklas Hjalmarsson and Johnny Oduya were also back together and finally Michal Rozsival and Nick Leddy rounded out the 5/6 D pairing. The Hawks players watching from the press box were Dan Carcillo, Jamal Mayers, Brandon Bollig and Sheldon Brookbank. Corey Crawford has played a great series and remained in the net. Jimmy “the stone wall” Howard claimed the Red Wings crease.
The top line opened up the period as everyone thought they would, dominating the play and almost giving the Hawks the early lead. Leddy tried to get a spark going with a rush from coast to coast. The Hawks set the aggressive tone when Seabrook hammered Damien Brunner behind Crawford. The top line again dominates and Kane tries to bury a back hand past Howard. The first penalty was given to the Hawks when Stalberg hooks a Red Wing off an offensive faceoff. Crawford is stellar in net and made some key saves to allow the Hawks to kill off the penalty.
Kaner didn’t want this series to end as he still has a multitude of chances to get the Hawks on the board. Howard was rock solid not allowing any rebounds.
Finally the sold out UC crowd gets on their feet. Bickell grabs a rebound at the side of the net and rips a shot off the goal camera in the back of the net, giving the Hawks a 1-0 lead.
Crawford stands strong once again keeping the Hawks up. Carlo Colaiacovo is the first victim for the Wings to receive a penalty, as he heads to the box for interference. The Hawks kill the penalty and end the period out shooting the Wings 12-11.
The second period opens up with the Wings coming back to try and even the score. Patrick Eaves breaks his stick as he tried to score on Crawford. Bolland gets called for a trip but Justin Abdelkader ruins the Wings chances to get a power play as he retaliates and spears Bolland after the scrum. 4 on 4 hockey was next. During the 4 on 4 play Toews knocks a puck past Howard, but the whistle had blown and the Hawks argued the call.
Back the other way, Pavel Datsyuk hammers a shot of the post and the UC crowd breathes a sigh of relief. Saad and Hossa break in on a 2 on 1 and Saad elects to keep the puck and throw a backhand toward Howard who smothers the rebound not allowing the Hawks to add to their lead. Another scrum ensues after Howard covers a puck. Stalberg and Jakub Kindl head to the box and another 2 minutes of 4 on 4 hockey begins.
Toews arch nemeses, Henrik Zetterberg, carried the puck over the blue line and fires a shot on Crawford. Dan Cleary is the recipient of the tying goal placing a perfect puck off Crawford’s pad and in the back of the net. The UC crowd is quickly quieted as the Red Wings tied the score at 1-1.
Drew Miller is next to skate the walk of shame to the penalty box after hooking Toews along the boards. The Hawks showed some sort of urgency shooting the puck at Howard time after time.
During the man advantage, Keith rips a shot from the point and Shaw executes a beautiful tip and the Hawks take the lead 2-1. In case you missed it, that’s a Hawks power play goal.
Abdelkader heads to the box after a cross check. The Hawks again capitalize on the power play. Toews stands post at the side of the net and Hossa finds him and the captain finally buries his first of the post season giving the Hawks a 3-1 lead with 4:13 left in the second.
The Wings break in on a 3 on 1 and Leddy makes an incredible play, sliding along the ice and disrupting the pass across. The period ends with Bolland heading to the box for unsportsmanlike conduct. The rough stuff after the play is the reason why he had to do his walk of shame to the penalty box.
The third period opened with the top line of Toews, Sharp and Kane dominating again. Sharp feeds a great pass to Kane in front but the wizard is unable to add to the lead. The lead was added shortly when Shaw grabs a rebound off Howard and wraps around the net electrifying the UC and giving the Hawks a 4-1 lead.
Bickell sends a message to the Wings hammering Niklas Kronwall with a huge shoulder hit sending the veteran D man to the bench for an extended rest. The Wings get a chance to come back when Frolik heads to the box for throwing an elbow. The Hawks kill another power play and the believers begin to believe once again. Zetterberg gets his just desserts as a snow cone is pasted against his face late in the period. The Hawks stave off elimination and head back to Joe Louis arena still down 3-2 in the series but the hint of success still smells in the air.
-Hawks outshot the Wings 45-26
-The Hawks finally capitalize on the power play going 2 for 3 with the Wings 0 for 4.
-Hawks center men went as follows: Toews 8 for 20. Shaw 5 for 8. Handzus 8 for 11. Bolland 6 for 13. Kruger 3 for 4.
-Toews finally scored his first goal of the playoffs.
-Next up the Hawks fly back to Detroit on Monday night to keep the series alive.