CHICAGO – The Detroit Red Wings had three chances to win one in their best-of-seven Western Conference semifinal series with the Chicago Blackhawks.
Their margin for error is now one less game.
Chicago scored two power play goals in the second period, one of which came from the much-maligned Jonathan Toews, and skated by the Wings, 4-1 Saturday night at the United Center.
“We’re foolish to think that they’re just going to give us that fourth game,” defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo said. “We know we can be better and we are going to be better. They’re a really good team. They deserved it more than we did.”
Detroit still holds a 3-2 in the series, which shifts back to Joe Louis Arena for Game 6, Monday at 8 p.m.
“It’s up to us,” forward Henrik Zetterberg said. “We can talk about momentum here or momentum there, it’s up to the players to decide who has the momentum going into the game. We’ve been there before, been through this, so we just have to go out and play a good game.”
The Blackhawks, who also beat Detroit 4-1 in Game 1, came in losers of three straight for the first time all season, being outscored 9-2 in the process.
Chicago, which began the year 21-0-3, had just three two-game losing streaks during the regular season.
Andrew Shaw netted a pair and Bryan Bickell added the other goal for Chicago, while Corey Crawford made 25 saves.
Daniel Cleary scored the Wings’ only goal and Jimmy Howard stopped 41 of the 45 shots he faced.
“They’re a good team,” Zetterberg said. “They’re here for a reason and they showed it. We just have to play the way we want. Go back to playing like we did in the past three games. We all know that, now we just have to go back and do it.
“We don’t get too high, we don’t get too low, we just stay with it,” Zetterberg added. “We know we can play good hockey if we do all the little things right. We just have to go back to doing that. We’re confident too. I think it’s going to two confident teams playing in Game 6.”
Trailing 1-0 after one period, Cleary evened things up just before the midway point of the game.
With both teams down a man, Zetterberg began the rush up ice and flung a backhand shot on goal with Brendan Smith and Cleary both driving hard to the net. The puck found its way to Cleary and from an impossible angle he shot one off Crawford’s right toe.
The tie game didn’t last long as the Blackhawks struck on the power play, taking advantage of Pavel Datsyuk breaking his stick early in the penalty kill. A shot from the point from Duncan Keith was redirected by Shaw past Howard.
The power play goal was Chicago’s second of the series, snapping an 0-for-12 streak after scoring on its first man advantage of the series.
“I’m not frustrated at all,” Cleary said. “We came in, we said let it go. You gotta forget about a game like that. We just didn’t play well. We weren’t hard enough on the puck, weren’t hard enough on their defense, we didn’t play like we’ve been playing.”
Less than three minutes later, an alert Marian Hossa found Toews camped out to the left of the Wings goal and the Blackhawks’ captain did the rest, banking his shot off Howard’s mask and into the mesh behind the Wings netminder.
“The good thing about hockey is you get a second chance,” defenseman Kyle Quincey said. “You get to play in two days. (We’re) looking forward to redeeming ourselves.
“They wanted it more than us, they had a little more jump,” Quincey added. “That score kind of shows how the game went. They were better than us. We didn’t match it.”
The goal was the first for Toews, who was whistled for three straight penalties in Game 4 that led to a Wings goal, this postseason.
“Both times (we had a chance to clear the puck) for sure,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “The one time you broke your stick, what are you going to do. The other one, our guy fell down and someone else tried to do his job and next you’re digging it out of the back of your net.
“Our first penalty kill of the night we did a good job, I don’t think they got a shot, so we did a good job on that one,” Babcock continued. “Bottom line is the last game we scored a power play goal and they didn’t and they scored two power play goals (tonight) and we didn’t and that’s the difference, back-to-back games (came down to) specialty teams.”
Earlier in the period, the Wings looked like they were heading to their second power play of the game after Datsyuk was tripped, but Justin Abdelkader was also sent off for unsportsmanlike conduct after the play to put both teams down a man.
During the four-on-four play, Datsyuk rang a wrist shot off the post to the right of Crawford.
“I think we ended up in the box too much, but still all the way up until they got their second one we were right in the game,” Zetterberg said. “After we scored our first one we were doing a lot of good things and had something going there and up until they scored their second one. But after the third one they took over again and then 4-1, game over.
Bickell opened the scoring late in the second period taking advantage of a Jonathan Ericsson turnover just inside the Wings’ blue line.
That led to a flurry of action in Detroit’s zone and after saves by Howard on Bickell and Patrick Kane, soon five Wings got caught on one side of the ice and left Bickell wide open for the easy goal.