Daily Archives: May 18, 2013

Wings play a full 60 minutes against Blackhawks to even series

CHICAGO – The Detroit Red Wings wanted to play a better game than the performance they turned in Game 1 against the Chicago Blackhawks.

They did just that Saturday afternoon at the United Center and now head back to Detroit with the best-of-seven Western Conference semifinal series with Chicago all tied up 1-1.

“They were a lot better than us (in Game 1) and skated a lot more and I think we just wanted to prove for ourselves that we could play a better game and we did,” said Henrik Zetterberg after the Wings’ 4-1. “When you start on the road you have as a goal to get one and we did that. We just have to move on and look forward to next game at the Joe. The fans were going to be great for us as it was in the first series. We’re looking forward to seeing them Monday.”

Game 3 is Monday at 7:30 p.m. at Joe Louis Arena.

“The biggest thing is we played for 60 minutes,” Jonathan Ericsson said. “We played for 20 minutes last game, (Jimmy Howard) saved us for a little while, but he can’t stand on his head the whole game. We know we’re going to give up some time in our zone, but we have to keep them on the outside and not in front of the net and that was the biggest thing that helped us today.”

Damien Brunner, Brendan Smith, Johan Franzen and Valtteri Filppula all scored for Detroit, while Howard needed to make just 19 saves.

Patrick Kane got Chicago’s goal and Corey Crawford stopped 26 shots.

“We wanted to skate,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “We didn’t skate at all (in Game 1). I actually thought we were all right the first period when they didn’t skate the last game. When they started to skate we couldn’t keep up. This was a better game for us, obviously, we gave them less space.”

The win snaps an eight-game losing skid to the Blackhawks and now gives the Detroit home-ice advantage in the series.

“I don’t know if that makes any difference whatsoever,” Babcock said when asked about home-ice advantage. “They got a real good club. They’ve been good all year. We’ve got a real good club now. We haven’t been good all year. We just got better. So we kept getting better. We’re confident in our group. We think we can be in this series and we’re excited about the opportunity.”

Detroit also took Game 2 in its first round matchup with Anaheim before taking the Ducks down in seven.

“I think this is our best game of the playoffs,” Howard said. “What better time than to play it today. We needed to get a win here, get a split. The guys definitely responded after Game 1.”

Chicago’s only other loss this postseason game on the road in Game 3 in Minnesota.

“We went through lot of negative clips, but not in a negative way,” Babcock said. “We were just showing them we didn’t do what we do, we didn’t do what we were supposed to do, how can you be any good? I thought the guys responded. As soon as they saw it, they knew and they knew how we could be better.”

Chicago opened the scoring late in the first period, taking advantage of a blunder by Smith just outside the Blackhawks’ blue line.

Smith decided not to pinch and then had his stick lifted by Patrick Sharp which led to a 2-on-1 going the other way. Kyle Quincey slid along ice to break up the pass from Sharp, but the rebound went to Michal Handzus and he fed it quickly to Kane for his first goal of the playoffs.

“I wouldn’t say it’s a wake-up call,” Jonathan Toews said. “I think we know exactly what we need to improve on and do it right away. There’s no time to waste in the series and we know going into their building it’s going to be even more difficult than it was today. So, turn the page and make sure we’re better in Game 3.”

The Wings got the equalizer after some great work by the third line less than three minutes into the second period. Jakub Kindl softly flung a puck on goal that deflected off Brunner’s stick as he skated through the slot to beat an unsuspecting Crawford.

“We’re in the series now,” said Brunner after his fourth goal of the playoffs. “Our fans are probably excited waiting for us to come home. We’re expecting a good atmosphere at The Joe and hopefully we’ve got some wins for them.”

The Wings jumped in front 2-1 when Zetterberg swooped in as Niklas Hjalmarsson fell in the Blackhawks’ zone. Zetterberg dragged the puck below the goal line and fed a pass to Smith streaking in from the blue line for the one timer.

The goal was Smith’s second of the playoffs, coming late in the second period.

“We understood before the game that if we fell down 2-0 we’re done,” Kyle Quincey said. “This was a must win. Now we have hope and we like our chances at home. We just have to keep it going.”

Franzen gave the Wings a 3-1 lead after receiving a nice stretch pass from Jonathan Ericsson, blue line to blue line, sending the winger in and he snapped a wrist shot just inside the post over Crawford’s shoulder.

Filppula put the finishing touches on things, taking a drop pass from Zetterberg and using a pick from Daniel Cleary he backhanded a shot between Crawford’s pads.

“It’s important confidence-wise for those guys, but also I thought those guys really dug in today,” Babcock said of Franzen and Filppula. “If we can be gritty and determined on the puck and limit their space, then it’s series on. If we can’t skate with them, the rest of that stuff won’t matter. If you work real hard and play with good structure and you believe in one another, then it’s series on and guys will score some goals. If we don’t then it’ll be like Game 1.”

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Third period wonders

CHICAGO — The Wings finally held a team down in the third period after taking a two-goal lead into the third period of Game 2.

“I think we kept playing,” Henrik Zetterberg said. “We didn’t sit back, we wanted to go for the next goal and it was nice to see when (Valtteri Filppula) got that fourth one. We kind of finished the game.”

Johan Franzen and Filppula each scored in the third.

“We just kept doing what we do in the first two periods and we had good success,” Damien Brunner said.

The Wings had been outscored 15-5 in the third period heading into Game 2.

Miller feels good after first game back since breaking a finger on April 20

CHICAGO — Drew Miller returned from a broken finger he suffered on April 20 and felt OK after the game.

“When you come back you try to be ready to go, I skated a lot and my hand felt fine,” Miller said “I had no issues with it the whole game. We go from here. First period there were a couple of shifts that I had to get the feel back of just getting back in the game. As the game went on I felt better.”

Miller did take a crushing blow near the end of the third period by Brent Seabrook.

“When I was getting the puck out and I think that was the biggest test for my hand,” Miller said. “He hit me on that hand side. I was fine. I made the play and didn’t have any problem with it.”

Zetterberg: “He creates a lot of stuff, sometimes for both teams.”

CHICAGO – Detroit Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg didn’t hold back when asked about teammate Brendan Smith.

“He creates a lot of stuff, sometimes for both teams,” Zetterberg said with a slight grin Saturday after the Wings’ 4-1 win over the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 2 of their best-of-seven Western Conference semifinal series at the United Center. “He’s young, he’s still learning. He learns every game. It’s nice to see he had a bounce back game.”

Smith was raked over the coals after the Wings’ 4-1 loss in Game 1, by TV analysts and then on social media.

“That’s a fair judgment,” Smith said when told of Zetterberg’s quote.

Smith had another gaff Saturday that led to the Blackhawks’ only goal, but then he recovered to net the game winner off a nice feed from Zetterberg.

“I just lost the battle with Sharp and he made great play,” Smith said of Chicago’s goal. “I think I just under-estimated his strength and his speed. It’s something that I have to do better.

“Actually, at the end of the game I did better and made sure that I was on the defensive side,” Smith said. “You see how quick it can change like that and I how quick they can get a chance like that. It’s just those little things that I have to be working on.”

Smith decided not to pinch and then had his stick lifted by Sharp which led to a 2-on-1 going the other way and eventually a goal.

“I thought Smith was outstanding,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said.

Smith trailed the play before jumping in to receive a pass from below the goal line from Zetterberg and he one-timed a shot into the open net.

“There wasn’t as much of a back-check and I seemed to have a little more speed than one of the forwards, so I just beat him to the front of the net,” Smith said. “He’s so fantastic with the puck, I think he put it through (Duncan Keith’s) legs and I put it into the open net. It was kind of a gimme for myself. Just being in the right place at the right time, so it’s kind of like a Damien Brunner goal.”

Defense partner Kyle Quincey keeps telling Smith to keep doing what he’s doing and continue to have a short memory.

“He’s a very emotional guy and I try to tell him, good or bad, it’s a job that we have,” Quincey said. “We get paid to play a game and it’s a game of mistakes and whoever makes the fewest wins. When you score everything is good, but every shift is the exact same. Overtime is the exact thing as the first period. Just keep going. We had a few bad bounces against us. I really didn’t hear what grief he took, but that’s the rumor. It’s good to see him respond. It was a tough one on the first goal but it was good to see him bounce back there.

“It’s taken me a long time to kind of let it roll off my back and he’ll learn the hard way,” Quincey added. “I’ve been there done it. It’s fun to watch him get better and better after every game. I just try to tell him that it’s just a game.”

Smith, who didn’t score a goal in the regular season, saw just over 16 minutes of ice time, registered three shots and blocked two shots.

“It’s huge for me confidence and just for our team because it was such a big game,” Smith said. “I had some things to work on from last game and there are still a lot of things that I have to work on. But hockey is a weird game and sometimes the bounces go your way.”

Late in the regular season Smith found himself a healthy scratch for two straight games after his coach wanted him to look after the puck better. Prior to his benching he had gone five consecutive games by registering a minus-1 rating.

“Coach will tell you how it is,” Smith said. “If you don’t play very well, he’ll tell you. I think we both kind of went over things and we didn’t think all the criticism I got wasn’t as bad as people were saying. If I did a much worse game, he would have told me and would have been honest.”

Smith was called on to play a huge role this season after the Wings lost Nicklas Lidstrom (retirement) and Brad Stuart (trade).

Stalberg sits Game 2

CHICAGO — Chicago coach Joel Quenneville has decided to sit Viktor Stalberg a second straight game.

“When you asked before about changing the lineup we had to get (Dave Bolland) into the lineup in Minnesota,” Quenneville said. “I don’t like changing too much, but we wanted to get him in our lineup and kind of comparable to what we’ve done throughout the season. But we’ll see. We’re not, you know, we can adapt and change at any moment.”

Stalberg played all five games in the Blackhawks open series win over the Wild.

“(The) Stalberg situation is that because things went so well in Game 1, why change?,” Quenneville said.