COMMENTARY | The Detroit Red Wings knew it would be tough to eliminate the best team in the Western Conference, and Chicago made sure it wouldn't happen in Game 5.
The Chicago Blackhawks avoided elimination on Saturday, May 25 with a 4-1 win against the Red Wings. The Game 5 Blackhawks looked a lot like the Game 1 Blackhawks, the same Blackhawks that got at least a point in 24 straight games, and the same Blackhawks that won the Presidents' Trophy.
Red Wings came out tentative
With all of the pressure on the Blackhawks to extend the series, they came out with energy and were physical with the Red Wings, who came out playing like they didn't want to lose rather than playing like they wanted to win.
This isn't something new. The Red Wings have had slow starts in this series before, but they managed to regroup and get better as the game went on.
They didn't do that in Game 5. The Blackhawks wanted it more, and the Red Wings had no answer.
With a 3-1 series lead, the Red Wings needed to put the pressure on the Blackhawks and play like they had in Games 2, 3 and 4. The Red Wings had nothing to lose and everything to gain.
Blackhawks outshot Red Wings by wide margin
Just like in the Game 1 win, the Blackhawks peppered Jimmy Howard, and outshot the Red Wings by a wide margin.
Howard has proven himself in these playoffs, but if you get 40+ shots on net, odds are some of those are going to go in.
Not to mention three of the four goals weren't Howard's fault. Bryan Bickell's goal was a third-chance opportunity, Andrew Shaw deflected in a point shot and Jonathan Toews' goal went off Howard's mask.
The only goal I can blame Howard for is Shaw's second goal, which made the score 4-1. Viktor Stalberg took a shot from the slot and Shaw picked up the rebound from behind the net and slid it past Howard.
The reason I blame Howard is because he looked like he had given up on the play thinking the shot went up into the netting and the whistle would be blown.
Howard knows better than to give up on a play, so I'll give him the benefit of the doubt on this one.
Two failed clears lead to two power-play goals
The Red Wings had shut down the Blackhawks' power play after Game 1. Chicago was 1 of 12 with the man advantage until they scored two power-play goals in Game 5.
Both power-play goals happened because the Red Wings failed to clear the puck out of the zone. Instead of taking time to make sure they had an open lane to shoot the puck out, they just blindly whacked at the puck and Chicago managed to keep it in the zone and take advantage.
The Red Wings knew winning that fourth straight game against a desperate Blackhawks team wasn't going to be easy. The Blackhawks are too talented and have too much depth.
However, the Red Wings will have a big bounce-back game in Game 6. Detroit has too much pride and too much heart to let the Blackhawks back into this series.
The Red Wings will come back to a rowdy crowd at Joe Louis Arena and end the series.
Tom Mitsos is a Michigan native who covers the Detroit Red Wings for the Yahoo! Contributor Network. He also is a high school sports reporter at MLive Media Group. You can find Tom on Twitter @tom_mitsos.
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