CHICAGO, Ill. – Let it be a long layoff between series or first game jitters but the Chicago Blackhawks eventually got it together and turned it on to defeat longtime divisional rivals, the Detroit Red Wings by the score of 4-1 in the first game of the Western Conference Semifinals.
Everything was expected in this game from these two combatants. The Red Wings came out more physical to begin the game as they played well and finished their checks to make things happen. But the Hawks got on the board first as they turned one of their weaknesses into a strength in scoring on the power play. With pressure in their own zone, the Red Wings could not hold of the Hawks pressure. Left wing Patrick Sharp stripped the puck with captain Jonathan Toews taking control and sending a centering pass to Marian Hossa who slapped the shot in past Jimmy Howard at 9:03 in the first frame.
As the first period ended up being fairly played on the ice and on the scoreboard, the Blackhawks turned up the heat dominating the shots columns as they took 17 bullets to Howard while firing only five of their own. But Howard stood on his head in not allowing anything to pass the goal line and into the net in the middle frame.
Chicago continued its shooting dominance in the third by outshooting Detroit 19 to 9 but the difference here was that they got three goals in the process. Eight minutes into the period, defenseman Johnny Oduya scored another game-winner in the playoffs as he got a shot to center from Sharp and shoveled in a wrister up and over Howard’s glove hand. The Hawks got a little insurance as the fourth line shined again. AS the puck was being dumped in, it got lodged in the back of the net, Howard poked at it and it came out as the Hawks were converging towards the net. A few players touched the puck and it came right out to center Marcus Kruger who backhanded the puck in for his second of the playoffs at the 11:23 mark. Patrick Sharp added an empty-net goal to add to his two assists to put away the Red Wing for the win.
The Hawks doubled up the Red Wings on shots striking for 42 pucks on goal to their opponent’s 21. A sellout crowd of 21,494 saw their home team Hawks continue to be perfect on the penalty kill stopping all three of Detroit opportunities along with also getting a goal on the man-advantage.
Detroit will now travel back home for a few days as the teams have a two day break before coming back to Chicago and the United Center for a noon affair on Saturday.
Three Stars of the Game
Third Star: Chicago Defenseman Johnny Oduya with the game winner
Second Star: Chicago Blackhawks Right Wing Marian Hossa with the power play goal
First Star: Chicago Blackhawks Left Wing Patrick Sharp with a goal and two assists
WESTERN CONFERENCE SEMIFINALS
No. 1 Chicago Blackhawks vs. No. 7 Detroit Red Wings
Chicago Blackhawks lead series 1-0
Game 1: Detroit Red Wings 1 at Chicago Blackhawks 4, Wednesday, May 16, 7:00pm
Game 2: Detroit Red Wings at Chicago Blackhawks, Saturday, May 18, 12:00pm
Game 3: Chicago Blackhawks at Detroit Red Wings, Monday, May 20, 6:30pm
Game 4: Chicago Blackhawks at Detroit Red Wings, Thursday, May 23, 7:00pm
*Game 5: Detroit Red Wings at Chicago Blackhawks, Saturday, May 25, TBD
*Game 6: Chicago Blackhawks at Detroit Red Wings, Monday, May 27, TBD
*Game 7: Detroit Red Wings at Chicago Blackhawks, Wednesday, May 29, TBD
All times central