Game 2 was a story of how the Chicago Blackhawks struggled mightily. Games 3 and 4 have been a story of how the Detroit Red Wings have begun playing their best hockey of the season, and the Hawks can only look on helplessly as their playoff hopes slip away.
A Jakub Kindl goal with one second left on the power play gave the Red Wings a 1-0 lead in the second period, and that’s all they needed as the Hawks dropped a 2-0 decision at Joe Louis Arena on Thursday night.
The loss puts the Hawks one game away from elimination, and has given the entire city of Chicago a bad case of whiplash after the optimism the team generated in Game 1 of the series.
We’ll have plenty of reaction to the contest in the coming days on Madhouse Enforcer, but for now, here are Thursday’s Three Stars:
Third Star: Michael Frolik
Yes, the Blackhawks’ remarkable 30 straight penalties killed streak ended in the second period, but the fact is that Frolik still had an excellent game.
Not only did he have two shots on goal, but he also blocked three shots and dished out a hit in only 11:28 of ice time in the contest. He also was constantly pushing the tempo on offense, and as a fourth liner, there isn’t a lot more that you can ask of a player in that role.
Second Star: Corey Crawford
Crawford didn’t get tested a whole lot in this game, but when he did, he was able to stand tall. He kept the Hawks in the game as they struggled to get their offensive game in order, and when inevitable defensive breakdowns occurred when the Hawks’ defensive corps got too cute, he stymied nearly every Wings chance.
His biggest challenge in the game came in the third period, when Brendan Smith snagged a pass in the middle of the ice and had a wide open lane to the net. Smith skated toward the goal, and he unleashed a wicked shot to the far side of the net, which Crawford steered aside with his leg pad.
It was a fantastic save by a goaltender roundly criticized before the playoffs as not being clutch enough for the postseason, and it silenced the critics who were slamming him for allowing seven goals in Games 2 and 3.
First Star: Niklas Hjalmarsson
After starting the series out with a couple of bad decisions in Games 1 and 2, Hjalmarsson has come alive on the blue line for the Hawks in recent games. He was credited with only two hits in the game, but he was very active in the physicality department, and played a very disciplined game in his 32 shifts.
It was a bit of a surprise to see such a low time of ice total after the game, especially considering that he played nearly 10 minutes in the first period, but without Hjalmarsson’s discipline, the game could have gotten out of hand for the Blackhawks.