DETROIT – The Detroit Red Wings finally figured out how to score a power play goal on the Chicago Blackhawks this postseason.
And that success could not have come at a better time.
Jakub Kindl scored the power play goal midway through the game and it proved to be the game winner as the Wings grabbed a 3-1 strangle hold of their best-of-seven Western Conference semifinal series with Chicago after the 2-0 win Thursday night at Joe Louis Arena.
“That was huge for all of us,” Kindl said. “We knew we had to pick it up on our power play. They’ve been playing so good as a team on the PK. That was a huge goal for us.”
The Wings can end the series Saturday at 8 p.m. at the United Center in Chicago.
“This was the biggest game of my life so far and the biggest goal I’ve had,” Kindl said. “The series is not over yet. We’re happy with those two games we’ve played here. But they’re a great team and they’re not going to give. It’s going to be tough going back to play in their building. We’re just going to try and play the same way we did last two games, play on our toes and play tight in our neutral zone.”
Daniel Cleary added an empty-net goal with 38.2 seconds left and Jimmy Howard made 28 saves for his second career shutout in the playoffs.
Corey Crawford made 25 saves for the Blackhawks.
Chicago’s Jonathan Toews picked the wrong time to have a meltdown.
Toews was sent off for three consecutive penalties in the middle frame, the second of which led to a Wings goal.
Pavel Datsyuk dug the puck out from behind Chicago’s goal and fed it to Johan Franzen, who quickly got it to Carlo Colaiacovo at the point. After Colaiacovo pulled off a shot he found Kindl and his shot beat Crawford with a second left in the Wings’ power play.
Chicago had been successful killing off 30 consecutive power play chances by the opposition to begin the postseason.
Toews was sent off at 5:20 for hooking and then he was assessed back-to-back high sticking penalties at 8:04 and 10:54.
“I’m not going to say anything about the officiating,” Toews said. “Obviously, I disagree with the calls but it’s in the heat of the moment. They see what they see. I’ve got to be careful of my stick. That doesn’t help my team, but I still think we played hard through it, found a way to stay in the game, killed off two big penalties.”
After scoring a goal on their first power-place chance in the series, Chicago has gone 0-for-11 with the man advantage, including 0-for-3 in Game 4.
“Everyone’s a little pissed off,” Crawford said. “I thought we played well again. It just seems like we can’t get bounces. Three off the post and they get one off the post and in. That pretty much sums it up for the last couple of nights for us.”
After dropping Game 1 in the series, the Wings have won the last three in a row by a combined score of 9-2.
This is the Blackhawks’ first three-game losing streak this season. They had just three two-game losing streaks during the regular season.
Chicago began the season 21-0-3.
“We’re getting chances, going to the net hard and doing a lot of good things,” Crawford said. “I think there’s times when you’re just not getting bounces and doing a lot of things right. I just can’t explain it. It’s another thing if you’re not playing hard and you’re not battling. That’s not the case with our team right now.”
And the Wings didn’t sit back like they did in Game 3 where they had a two-goal lead and it led to a number of scoring chances for both teams.
Crawford stoned Brendan Smith midway through the third period after he took a drop pass from Gustav Nyquist.
Chicago had the net two best scoring chances. The first came on a 2-on-1 where Howard sprawled to make a right pad save to stop Dave Bolland. Then, Michal Handzus hit the post to the right of Howard.
In the second periods, Nick Leddy hit the post to the right of Howard with a floater.
“(Howard) made some big saves and we hit some posts,” Chicago’s Patrick Sharp said. “We knew he was a good goalie coming into the playoffs and nothing has changed.”
Just past the three-minute mark of the first period, Toews found himself open on a 2-on-1 and elected to shoot, but was denied by Howard’s right pad.
With less than five minutes to go in the opening period, Patrick Sharp got behind the Wings’ defense at their blue line, but Howard got a blocker on the shot.
That chance led to the Wings’ best scoring opportunity in the first 20 minutes when Daniel Cleary had a good look in the slot after taking a pass from Pavel Datsyuk, but couldn’t be Crawford.
Chicago got the first power play of the game after Niklas Kronwall hooked Toews. The penalty was caused when Kronwall’s clearing attempt got right on the stick of Toews.
Brendan Smith left the game with 3:22 left in the first period after getting hit on his right knee cap from a shot by Dave Bolland. Smith needed to be helped off the ice. He missed just one shift.
It was the second straight game the teams were scoreless after one period.