CHICAGO, IL - MARCH 16: Members of the Chicago Blackhawks inclusing (L-R) Kris Versteeg #23, Ben Smith #28 and Nick Leddy #8 celebrate Leddy's second period goal against the Detroit Red Wings at the United Center on March 16, 2014 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
The Chicago Blackhawks got contributions from star players and role players alike on Sunday night, and they used those great performances to knock off the Detroit Red Wings by a score of 4-1 at the United Center.
Nick Leddy, Ben Smith, Marian Hossa, and Jonathan Toews all picked up goals for the Blackhawks, and Corey Crawford made 19 saves as the Hawks snapped their two game losing streak and kept pace with the Colorado Avalanche in the Central Division.
The game started out well for the Blackhawks, as they got a couple of quick chances in the early going. Marcus Kruger had the best chance out of the bunch, getting a breakaway just over a minute into the game. He fired the puck just over the crossbar, but the Red Wings couldn’t take advantage as Glendening was denied twice by Crawford as the game remained scoreless.
The Wings did get a power play shortly after that sequence, but the Hawks came to play in a big way. Jonathan Toews made a nice play to snare an errant pass and cleared it, while Michal Handzus picked up a couple of shot blocks and a nice clear of his own to keep things 0-0.
After Patrick Sharp was hooked on a 2-on-1 rush, the Blackhawks got a power play of their own, but they couldn’t get any shots on goal as the Wings showed some serious defensive resolve, and the game ended up heading to the first intermission with no score.
As the second period got underway, the Blackhawks put some good pressure on Howard, and they got another power play as a result. Once again though, they couldn’t manage a single shot on goal, and various attempts at entering the stone were stymied by a Wings’ defense that seemed to be clicking on all cylinders despite missing some key pieces.
The Blackhawks came out of the man-advantage with some momentum, and when they got another power play a few minutes later, they were finally able to convert. The Red Wings’ defense finally showed some cracks as several Hawks players got good chances, and when Leddy was left uncovered at the point, he blasted away and watched as his shot deflected off a Detroit skate and in past Howard to give the home side a 1-0 lead.
Patrick Kane ended up committing a penalty a few minutes after the goal by Leddy, and the Red Wings took advantage of the man-advantage to tie things up. Gustav Nyquist got the puck in between the face-off circles with some nifty passing, and his shot ended up deflecting off of both of Brent Seabrook’s skates, and Crawford couldn’t make the stop as the game was knotted up at 1-1.
Chicago responded well to the goal, getting some good chances on Howard. Ben Smith got a nice deflection off a wrist shot from Kane in the slot, but Howard was able to stop it. With about 14 seconds remaining in the period however, Smith got his revenge as he popped in a rebound off a shot by Duncan Keith from in close, and the Hawks carried a 2-1 lead into the second intermission.
The Blackhawks started the third period with some unwelcome news, as Brandon Saad left the game with an undisclosed injury. They did keep clicking on offense though, as Brandon Bollig picked up a nice scoring chance in the opening minutes off a feed from Marcus Kruger, but Howard refused to yield as the Wings clung to life in the game.
Some of that hope for Detroit was extinguished when some of the Hawks’ top snipers paired up for a really nice goal. After Keith found Patrick Sharp in the neutral zone, the Hawks’ alternate captain skated through a couple of Wings’ defenders before finding Hossa near the blue line. With a head full of steam, Hossa burst into the Wings’ zone, and he beat Howard with a quick snapshot to extend the Blackhawks’ lead to two goals.
As the period approached the halfway point, the tempo really opened up on both sides as the Wings tried to climb back into the game. Bollig had a redirect chance off a shot from the point, but Howard was up to the task. Crawford then answered back with a couple of key saves, including a nifty glove save off a chance from Daniel Alfredsson in the slot to keep Chicago up by two goals.
With about three and a half minutes remaining in the game, the Red Wings piced up a power play thanks to a Keith high stick, but it was the Blackhawks who took advantage. Hossa made a steal off of Johan Franzen, and on a 2-on-1 rush, he found a wide open Toews, who made a nifty deke to beat Howard and give the Hawks' a 4-1 advantage with about two minutes remaining in the game.