4th down: Blackhawks stretch win streak to 4

February 21, 2012|RedEye

This was a big game.

The players knew it. The fans knew it. Everyone knew it.

And the way the Blackhawks and Detroit Red Wings played Tuesday night at the United Center proved it.

In what played out like a heavyweight title fight, the two Original Six teams played exciting hockey, unloading shot after shot on their opponent. Goalies Corey Crawford of the Blackhawks and Jimmy Howard of Detroit absorbed the blows, for the most part.

The Central Division-leading Red Wings drew first blood 2:22 into the game, when Valtteri Filppula scored on a power play. The Blackhawks drew even in an intense second period when rookie Jimmy Hayes found the open net when the puck bounced his way.

Each team had prime scoring chances in the action-packed second period. Howard stopped several Blackhawks breakaways, and Crawford had to withstand a 16-shots-on-goal assault from the Red Wings. The Blackhawks had 12 shots in the period. Crawford finished with 31 saves.

Marcus Kruger gave the Blackhawks their first lead of the night at 2-1 early in the third when he got the puck past Howard in a crowd in front of the net. It was a form of redemption for Kruger, who was called for the first penalty of the game that resulted in the Red Wings' first goal.

That goal held up as the game-winner, as the third period came and went with no goals.

All the intensity of the division battle unfolded with perhaps each team's best player sidelined.

The Hawks were without captain Jonathan Toews, who is sidelined with an upper-body injury that coach Joel Quenneville described as day-to-day. Quenneville said the injury is not related to the wrist injury that forced Toews to miss a game Jan. 24.

"Johnny is important in a lot of ways, whether it's his leadership or the quality and the quantity of ice time that he's out there," said Quenneville, who added there was no defining blow when Toews suffered the injury. "It's up to some other guys to step up and absorb some quality ice (time) and some responsibility and contribute in their ways."

Meanwhile, the Wings were without leading scorer Pavel Datsyuk, who will miss two weeks following arthroscopic knee surgery. TRIBUNE CONTRIBUTED.

RedEye Chicago Articles
|
|
|