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Red Wings pull reversal on Blackhawks

The SportsXchange

CHICAGO -- It was almost as if the Detroit Red Wings and Chicago Blackhawks switched bodies in Saturday's Game 2 of their Western Conference semifinal series.

In Game 1 on Wednesday, the Blackhawks dominated and outshot the Red Wings, 42-20, en route to a 4-1 victory.

In Game 2 on Saturday at the United Center, the Red Wings were the ones who did the dominating, outshooting their rivals, 30-20, en route to a 4-1 victory of their own, tying the best-of-seven series at one game apiece.

"Obviously we were disappointed that we didn't play the way we were capable of in Game 1," Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. "So we went through it and had a look at it and just felt that, if we do what we normally do, we'll be right here and it will be a tight series and we'll have an opportunity. Good for us, it's a best-of-five."

The performance of Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard, who stopped 19 of Chicago's paltry 20 shots, was completely different than his poor outing in the series opener.

"This series is a long ways from over, I think," Howard said. "It was a totally different game. It seemed like we were able to get in on top of their 'D' and get our gameplan going."

Needless to say, Chicago coach Joel Quenneville was not happy by his team's performance, arguably one of its worst this season.

"Across the board, we should all assume some responsibility that we have to be much better than that," Quenneville said. "I thought our game was way off as far as the pace that was needed, and we weren't smart in certain areas."

The series moves to Detroit for Game 3 on Monday and Game 4 on Thursday. Game 5 will be back in Chicago on Saturday, May 25. If needed, Game 6 would be back in Detroit on May 27, and the finale would be May 29 in Chicago.

Brendan Smith's goal at 16:08 of the second period proved to be the game-winner for the Red Wings, breaking a 1-1 tie. Johan Franzen and Valtteri Filppula added third period insurance goals for the Red Wings.

"We knew that they were going to come back and play much better than they did in Game 1," center and captain Jonathan Toews of the Blackhawks said of the Red Wings. "Obviously, we didn't quite match the effort."

It was pretty clear from Saturday's opening faceoff that the Red Wings were significantly more aggressive and physical.

There was also a significant contrast in the play of the two goalies. While being inundated in Wednesday's series opener, Howard was exceptional in the net for the Red Wings this time.

Conversely, Crawford, who had not given up more than two goals in a game to Detroit this season before Saturday, and who entered with a personal eight-game winning streak against the Red Wings dating to last season, was clearly off his game.

"Whether I played well or it's a game I want to forget about, it's always just about the next one," Crawford said tersely after the game. "It doesn't matter what happened.

"They (the Red Wings) maybe were a little tighter defensively (than in Game 1), I think. We made some great plays, maybe just got cut off here or there by a good stick by them. Our guys were doing a good job; I was seeing a lot of those pucks."

At the same time, even though Chicago took an early lead on Patrick Kane's goal at 14:05 of the first period, the Blackhawks quickly fell apart afterward.

It was Kane's first goal of the playoffs, not a good sign for a player who tied for the team scoring lead during the regular season with Jonathan Toews, who remains without a goal in the postseason.

"They kind of used our own style against us as far as holding on to the puck and keeping it away from us," Kane said of the Red Wings. "It didn't seem like we generated much tonight at all."

Kane even went so far as to call the outcome a wake-up call for the Blackhawks.

"Yeah, I think so," Kane said. "Maybe after the first game, we thought it was going to be an easy series or that we had a lot of confidence in here.

"But they're a good team and have a lot of players that still want to battle and prove themselves even more than they have already. By no means is it going to be an easy series or cakewalk."

Detroit tied the game at 2:40 of the second period when Damien Brunner scored his fourth goal of the playoffs.

"I think we wanted to come out and play better," said forward Henrik Zetterberg, the Red Wings' captain. "We weren't happy with how we played in Game 1. We knew we could play better. It was nice to see we could do it."

If there was one consolation in the loss, the Blackhawks killed off all four Detroit power plays, extending their perfect streak to 24-for-24 in the postseason.

The Blackhawks are the only team that has not allowed a power-play goal during the playoffs.

But when you get royally trounced as the Blackhawks did Saturday, there's little consolation that can be found in such an end result, particularly with the series now shifting to Detroit for the next two games.

The Blackhawks are 5-2 thus far in the playoffs, while Detroit climbed to 5-4.

Detroit took its first lead of the series at 16:08 of the second period when Smith's wrister found its way past Crawford to make it a 2-1 advantage.

"We're confident in our group and we really think we can be in this series and are excited about the opportunity," Babcock said.

NOTES: The Blackhawks are 5-1-0 vs. Detroit in 2013, including regular season and playoff games. ... Right wing Viktor Stalberg appears to still be in coach Joel Quenneville's doghouse, as he was scratched from the Chicago lineup for the second straight game. Some media reports believe a feud between the two began after Stalberg complained about a lack of playing time in the opening playoff series against Minnesota. Quenneville has not publicly addressed the issue, but Stalberg still sitting speaks volumes in and of itself. ... Attendance was 21,822. ... Detroit is in its 22nd consecutive season of making the playoffs, from 1991 to the present. It is the longest active streak in professional sports. ... Detroit has the most victories in the NHL in the regular season (818) and playoffs (111) since 1997-98.

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