Well, that was something.
Despite the game ending in the buzzkill otherwise known as a shootout, we were treated to a doozy of a game between the Chicago Blackhawks and Detroit Red Wings. It's games like this that really make you miss having the Wings around as a division opponent, while also have you wondering if you could physically survive a Stanley Cup Final between the two clubs.
At the end of the day, the excitement is rather a moot point, though, as the Hawks fell in said shootout to their former division rivals. It wasn't as if they didn't have their chances to put this one away early. They had their fair share of opportunities, especially in a dominant first period. Not cashing in early gave the Wings an opportunity to stick around and ultimately lead to yet another one point effort for the Hawks, when two were easily in the realm of possibility. That's three of five games during this homestand in which the Hawks failed to get the extra point in overtime or the shootout.
The Blackhawks came out firing, playing some of the better hockey we've seen from them lately. They launched 17 shots at Jimmy Howard in the opening frame, against just six for the Wings. The Corsi chart in the first period read 33 attempts in favor of the Hawks, against just a dozen overall for the Wings. This was a theme overall throughout the game for the Blackhawks, who out-Corsi'd the Red Wings by an overall 77-54 figure.
Even with that in mind, the Hawks were unable to get on the board first. The Wings cashed in on a beauty of a pass from Darren Helm that found the stick of Tomas Tatar down around the crease. Tatar, surprisingly (sarcasm), was left uncovered by the Blackhawks' defense. They were able to respond quickly after, though, as Brandon Saad fired a long wrist shot that found its way past Jimmy Howard. Marian Hossa was incredibly offside on the play, but it went uncalled.
The third period is where we saw things tilt in the Wings' favor quite a bit. They outshot the Hawks 11-7, while taking an edge in Corsi as well, at 21-16. A severe defensive breakdown by the Hawks left Darren Helm completely alone in front of Corey Crawford, and a bit of chaos in front of the net led to a goal for the Wings. Less than a minute later, though, the Hawks were able to even things up. Credit for the goal went to Kris Versteeg, but it was ultimately Niklas Kronwall that knocked the puck into his own net.
Despite Michal Rozsival's best efforts to hand the game to Detroit, the two sides played to a scoreless extra frame. Overall, only three shots went in Corey Crawford's direction, while the Hawks managed to get just a pair to Howard, despite solid possession toward the end of the frame. The biggest scare came when Rozsival fumbled the puck at the blue line (typical of Blackhawk defensemen of late, and especially of Rozsival) and gave up a breakaway to Helm. He was unable to cash in, though, and the game went to a shootout.
Crawford stoned Pavel Datsyuk on the first attempt, while Jonathan Toews potted his. Unfortunately for the Hawks, Gustav Nyquist and Tatar both buried their opportunities, while Patrick Kane hit iron and Patrick Sharp made sure to remind us that his shootout goal against Pittsburgh was a mere fluke. It's another game where two points were in the Hawks' grasp, but they couldn't maintain the grip and only managed one. These are the games that lead to you playing on the road throughout the postseason, and it certainly looks like that's the direction in which the Hawks are headed.
Also, Michal Rozsival might be getting worse.
Onto the stars, I guess.
Three Stars of the Night
3. Patrick Sharp
Patrick Sharp was unable to end his scoring drought, but it's always fun to watch the handsome devil play angry. He was feisty throughout, with four hits on the night. He also finished the night with an 81 percent figure in CF%, along with four shots. He's trying to end his drought, and as was the case with Marian Hossa, his poor shooting percentage will adjust itself eventually.
2. Brandon Saad
Saad didn't have a great shift on the goal that put Detroit up 2-1, and his possession numbers on the night weren't that great overall, but he contributed where it counts most: on the scoreboard. He evened things up at one when the Hawks desperately needed to find their way past Jimmy Howard. Add in a couple of hits, a couple of takeaways, and over 20 minutes of icetime, and it wasn't a terrible day at the office for the budding star.
1. Corey Crawford
Crawford did the thing on Wednesday night. He kept the Hawks in this game throughout, despite an alarmingly enormous amount of continued defensive breakdowns from the blue line. He finished the night with 26 saves on 28 shots, and wasn't overly impressive in the shootout, but he held up his end of the bargain on Wednesday night.