Kris Versteeg tied the game up with just over a minute to go, but the Detroit Red Wings got the last laugh as Tomas Tatar’s shootout goal lifted them to a 3-2 win over the Chicago Blackhawks on Wednesday night.
Brandon Saad also scored for the Blackhawks, but Jimmy Howard played one of his best games of the season for Detroit as he carried the team to a season-series sweep over Chicago.
The first period of the game saw the Blackhawks put forward one of their more dominant efforts of the season, but they were consistently thwarted by Howard as he kept the game scoreless. Saad and Marian Hossa both made great plays to keep the puck in the zone on a power play near the halfway point of the frame, and Patrick Kane had several good scoring chances, but Howard made several stops.
The Blackhawks got another really good chance late in the period when Saad and Jonathan Toews skated in on a 2-on-1 rush, but Howard squared up Toews perfectly and made the save to keep the game tied at 0-0 after 20 minutes of play.
In the first half of the second period, the Red Wings had moments of opportunity, but the Blackhawks continued to be the dominant team in possession time. Brad Richards failed to score on a shot from the doorstep, and then Andrew Shaw missed a wide open net with Howard sprawled out on the ice. Finally Toews missed on a golden wraparound chance, sliding a puck through the crease and just outside of the post to keep the game scoreless.
Seizing a chance with about four minutes left in the period, the Red Wings scored to take the lead. Darren Helm made a great play as he drove toward the net, and when he backhanded a pass across the crease, Tatar was there to tap home the easy goal to give Detroit a 1-0 lead.
Just a few moments later however, the Blackhawks tied things up. Bringing the puck into the zone, Saad drove into the middle of the ice and rifled a shot past Howard to make it a 1-1 game, which it would remain through the end of the period.
The third period saw more opportunities for the Hawks to seize control of the contest, but once again they were unable to do so. Marcus Kruger got two straight chances in all alone against Howard early in the period, but the Detroit goaltender made two straight stellar saves. Shaw again had a chance from in close as well, but he couldn’t score.
With just two minutes remaining in the game, the Red Wings scored to seize the lead. Pavel Datsyuk made a tremendous play at the blue line to steal the puck from Saad as he tried to exit the zone, and eventually it made its way to Helm. Helm’s shot ended up bouncing off of Brent Seabrook’s knee and in past Crawford, making it a 2-1 game.
Undaunted, the Blackhawks got a lucky bounce of their own to tie things up less than a minute later. Versteeg was the lucky Blackhawk on the play, getting the puck in the middle of the zone and unloading on a shot toward the net. After barely grazing off of Toews’ back, the puck hit Niklas Kronwall in the blue paint, and it skipped into the goal to tie things up at 2-2.
The overtime period that followed saw several good chances, but it wasn’t until the shootout that Detroit was able to nail down the victory. Datsyuk was denied on his first round chance, but Gustav Nyquist and Tatar both beat Crawford as Kane and Patrick Sharp were both stopped by Howard to seal the Red Wings’ win.
The Blackhawks will return to home ice once again on Friday night when they welcome the Colorado Avalanche to the United Center in game six of their eight game homestand.