The Chicago Blackhawks dropped their second straight game with a 4-2 loss to the Detroit Red Wings on Friday night. It was the Hawks’ final game at Joe Louis Arena, which will be replaced by the Wings’ new facility next season.
The second leg of a back-to-back saw the Blackhawks come out a bit flat despite playing one of the worst teams in the Eastern Conference. They got beat in terms of shot attempts (51-35) and shots on goal (29-26), so it’s fair to say that they just didn’t quite have it.
Here’s how it happened:
Let’s just brush aside everything else that happened in the first 20 minutes to start with that goal. Oh baby, what a goal it was. Sometimes I lament how much the Blackhawks seem to depend on the Artemi Panarin one-timer from the left circle, but when it’s perfectly executed, it’s delicious like a fine wine.
Kane wasn’t even looking Panarin’s way before he made this pass, but he knew his teammate was trailing for that one-timer and somehow made a perfect pass right into the Russian’s wheelhouse. Jimmy Howard, who just got recalled from the AHL after recovering from injury, didn’t stand a chance of stopping it. He probably didn’t see any shots like this playing at the lower level.
Anyway! After that, the Red Wings scored twice (one by Xavier Ouellet, one by Andreas Athanasiou) in the final minutes of the period to take a 2-1 lead. The Hawks challenged the second goal, which came eight seconds before the intermission, for offsides unsuccessfully.
The Red Wings are one of the worst defensive teams in hockey, yet the trailing Blackhawks couldn’t muster much in the second frame until late in the period. It was a little disheartening given the context — one goal behind against a struggling team — and you had to wonder if the Hawks were just going to play out the string in this one.
Tomas Tatar scored on a sloppy rebound with a shot that slipped underneath Crawford, and the Red Wings were up 3-1. At that point, it seemed like the Hawks would need a stroke of luck or something to get back into it.
That’s when Trevor van Riemsdyk, in the midst of a poor performance, broke through with a clutch slap shot to make it 3-2. The defenseman had been quiet after spending extended time in the penalty box due to a game misconduct for instigating a fight, but his offensive ability remains part of what gets him in the lineup each night.
The Blackhawks did a better job pressing for shot attempts in the third period with another one-goal deficit, but again it was the Red Wings who struck first. Tomas Tatar finished off a fantastic passing sequence by Detroit with his 17th goal of the season to extend the lead to 4-2.
Joel Quenneville wasn’t shy about going all-out for another goal after that, pulling Crawford from the game with nearly four minutes left in favor of a sixth attacker. That was a risky choice with so much time left, but the plan didn’t last long as Jonathan Toews got busted for tripping less than 30 seconds later. Crawford returned for the penalty kill, and any chance of a two-goal comeback dissipated.
Tatar ended up scoring an empty netter in the final minute to put the game away.
SCH 3 stars
1. Tomas Tatar (2 goals, 1 assist)
2. Gustav Nyquist (3 assists)
3. Henrik Zetterberg (2 assists)
The Blackhawks have Saturday off before they host the Wild in a huge Sunday afternoon game on NBC. The winner of that game could potentially find itself atop the Central Division at the end of the weekend.