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Matchup: Chicago Blackhawks vs. Detroit Red Wings
Venue: Joe Louis Arena; Detroit, MI
Time: 8:00 PM EST
Television: NBC Sports Network; CBC
Series: Detroit leads 2-1
The Red Wings will look to keep their momentum going in tonight's game four when they take on the Blackhawks who will try to avoid being put on the brink of elimination. If someone had told me a week ago that the Red Wings had the chance to put Chicago on the brink of elimination in game four, I would have looked at them like they had a third eye. That is exactly what the Red Wings can do with a victory in tonight's game. The Red Wings physical style of play in games two and three paired with an offensive outburst after the game one debacle, has allowed the Red Wings to seize control of all momentum in this series. The end result has been a 2-1 series lead and Chicago left wondering if they underestimated the Red Wings who many thought would be too tired to challenge the Blackhawks after a hard fought seven game series against Anaheim.
The similarities in games two and three are noticable with the Red Wings dominating play for most of the game despite being outshot 40-30 in game three. Despite being outshot 15-9 in the first period, the Red Wings, thanks in part to Jimmy Howard, were able to go into the lockerroom with the score still tied at 0-0. The biggest part of the first period was the Red Wings ability to kill off three Chicago powerplay's to keep it scoreless. The addition of Drew Miller being back has greatly improved a penalty killing unit that struggled at times against Anaheim. It wasn't until the 7:49 mark of the second period that either team was able to light the lamp. That honor went to Gustav Nyquist who was able to control the puck in front of the net and out wait Corey Crawford and Brent Seabrook who both sprawled out to stop Nyquist who then shot the puck into the empty net. The Red Wings were able to add another goal only 31 seconds later when Patrick Eaves was able to get a shot on Crawford and Drew Miller followed up by crashing the net on the rebound to score the goal. Detroit was able to hold Chicago off the scoreboard until 4:35 into the third period when Patrick Kane was able to get a breakaway and put the puck between Howard's legs for his second goal in as many games. The goal came as a result of a questionable hit on Johan Franzen that left him down on the ice in pain, unable to get to his feet. The Red Wings faithful at Joe Louis as well as the players believed that a boarding call was warranted on the play, but the play resumed and the goal was scored. Chicago appeared to tie the game about a minute later when Andrew Shaw put the puck into the net, but the goal was waved off due to interference in the crease. Pavel Datsyuk was able to put the game away for good at the 6:46 mark with a wrist shot that went in and out of the goal so fast, it was nearly impossible to see. Bad penalty's and cheap shots followed in the closing minutes of the game by Chicago, who was clearly getting frustrated. Their style of play at the end of the game could sent the tone for game four tonight.
Jimmy Howard will once again be in between the pipes for the Red Wings. Howard had perhaps his strongest game of the series, stopping 39 of 40 shots and giving up only the one goal on the questionable hit on Johan Franzen. Howard will look to be the steady force once again for the Red Wings as they look to take the huge 3-1 series advantage.
Corey Crawford will be in net for Chicago once again as he looks to bounce back from two poor performances. It appears the Red Wings have finally solved the puzzle that was Crawford. In his last two games, Crawford has given up seven goals to the Red Wings. Prior to that, Crawford had given up only six goals in a total of five games this season., both regular season and playoffs.
Players To Watch:
- Jimmy Howard has been the rock in net for the Red Wings all post season, but his play the past two games has stood out more than ever. Howard has allowed only two goals in the past two games after giving up four and has been the main reason the Red Wings lead this series. The Red Wings will go as far as Howard takes them and with his level of play lately, it could be a long way.
- Drew Miller is one of the aces in the hole for the Red Wings. He came through with the eventual game winning goal in game three and has helped steady a Red Wings penalty kill that has been shaky for the most part this post season. Miller is a player that goes unnoticed much of the time, but is a key players for the Red Wings if they are to win this series.
- Andrew Shaw had what appeared to be the game tying goal in game three but had it waved off due to being in the crease. Shaw did not take to kindly to losing game three as he threw an elbow towards the end of the game and earned a game misconduct with less than a minute remaining. Look for him to come out with bad blood once again and he will be in the middle and the starter of many scrums tonight.
- Brian Bickell also did not take too kindly to losing game three as he took a penalty late in the game for cross checking which essentially sealed the Blackhawks fate. He, like Shaw, was in the middle of many scrums in game three and was quick to drop the gloves. I'm sure he will be looking to drop the gloves once again to get some life in his team, so he will be one to watch when on the ice.
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