The Detroit Red Wings were able to use a dominating performance in game two of the Western Conference Semi Finals to even up the best of seven series at one game a piece. The series now shifts back to Detroit with the Red Wings in control of home ice advantage.
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Matchup: Chicago Blackhawks vs. Detroit Red Wings
Venue: Joe Louis Arena; Detroit, MI
Time: 7:30 PM EST
Television: National- NBC Sports Network; CBC
Series: Tied 1-1
After was was most likely the Red Wings worst game of the playoffs in game one it was easy to write off the Red Wings as good as dead in this series. That was not true though, as the Red Wings were able to storm back and dominate game two from the second period on against the Chicago Blackhawks Saturday afternoon. The win allowed the Red Wings to game home ice advantage with three of the next five games at Joe Louis Arena.
Though the Red Wings dominated most of the game Saturday, it was the Blackhawks who once again were able to record the games first goal after Patrick Kane was able to record his first goal of the playoffs. That was all the offense that Chicago could muster though as they were only able to record 20 shots on net the entire game, similar to what the Red Wings did in game one. The Red Wings were able to tie the game early in the second period when Damien Brunner was able to tip in a shot from Jakub Kindl. From there, the Red Wings took control of the game and did not look back. They were able to take the lead late in the second period when Brendan Smith recorded his second goal of the playoffs on a two on one play, a goal that would be the eventual game winner. The big story of the second period was the Red Wings limiting the Blackhawks to only 5 shots on net in the period due to the smothering forechecking and defense. The third period did not fare much better for the Blackhawks as they were only able to fire 7 shots on net to the Red Wings 10. The Red Wings were able to connect for their third goal of the game when Johan Franzen was able to sneak behind the defense and recieve a perfect pass from Jonathan Ericsson to shoot the puck top shelf over Corey Crawford‘s shoulder. The Red Wings put the nail in the coffin mid way through the third when Valtteri Filppula broke in with his second goal of the playoffs.
The biggest problem for the Red Wings in game two, that was a problem for the Wild as well, was the ability to score on the powerplay once again. The Blackhawks remained perfect on the penalty kill in the playoffs and if the Red Wings are able to break that streak in game three, it could hurt the confidence, though maybe only slightly, of the Blackhawks penalty killing unit.
The win on Saturday was the biggest of the playoffs thus far for the Red Wings. A loss would have put them into a 2-0 series hole that might have been impossible to dig themselves out of. They instead get to come home for two straight games with no pressure on themselves. The same can’t be said about the Blackhawks though. After winning the President’s Trophy in the regular season, and dominating the Minnesota Wild in round one, they are expected to make a deep run in the playoffs and many have picked them to win the Stanley Cup. With Detroit earning the split in Chicago, the Blackhawks have the pressure on them to win game three and avoid going down 2-1 with another game to play in Detroit.
The Red Wings will once again have the steady Jimmy Howard in net after a good rebound performance in game two. Howard stopped 19 of the 20 shots he faced and did not let in a goal after the beginning of the first period. He will look to continue his strong starts in game three tonight in front of the home crowd at Joe Louis. It should help him being home after facing loud and unforgiving crowds in three consecutive games.
The Blackhawks will counter with Corey Crawford in net who was anything but stellar in game two. After a strong performance in game one where he gave up only one goal. In game two, Crawford gave up four goals on 30 shots. The four goals gave up in game two are the most Crawford has given up against the Red Wings this season and the loss was his first of the season against the Red Wings.
Players To Watch:
- Damien Brunner recorded his fourth goal of the playoffs and second in as many games this series in game two. It seems that Brunner has rediscovered the scoring touch that we saw in the beginning of the season which is good as he is a crucial part of the Red Wings depth on offense.
- Henrik Zetterberg continues to play well as of late in the playoffs, recording two assists in game two. The Blackhawks are having a hard time containing him and if Detroit is able to win this series, Zetterberg will be a main reason why.
- Viktor Stalburg was a healthy scratch in both games one and two for the Blackhawks, but the Blackhawks decided that they need some change after the game two debacle so Stalburg will be inserted into tonight’s lineup to provide some more energy. Though not a game changer usually, Stalburg will be well rested and could pose some issues if the Red Wings fall asleep on him.
- Patrick Kane was the lone goal scorer for Chicago in game two and it was his first goal of the playoffs. In order for the Blackhawks to continue on in these playoffs, Kane will need to get going and scoring in bunches like hes capable of.
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