DETROIT – The Detroit Red Wings’ inability to play a full 60 minutes this postseason reared its ugly head again and it came at the most inopportune time.
Clinging to a 2-1 to begin the third, the Chicago Blackhawks scored three unanswered goals before the midway point of the period as they skated by the Wings, 4-3, Monday night at Joe Louis Arena to force a winner-take-all Game 7.
“We put ourselves in this situation,” Niklas Kronwall said. “If someone would have said we were going to seven games before the series I think everyone would have taken it. We have another chance coming up here on Wednesday.”
Michal Handzus, Bryan Bickell and Michael Frolik scored in a span of eight minutes and 52 seconds apart in the third to lead the Chicago onslaught. Marian Hossa also scored and Corey Crawford made 35 saves.
Patrick Eaves, Joakim Andersson and Damien Bruner had goals for Detroit, while Jimmy Howard stopped 24 shots.
Game 7 is Wednesday at 8 p.m. at the United Center.
“We lost our composure there for a bit and made some mistakes and the puck ended up in the back of our net,” Kronwall said. “Over 60 minutes we made some mistakes, but we made a lot of good things happen out there. Sure we made some mistakes and it cost us, but that’s the way the game is played sometimes, stick with it and stay positive.”
The Wings have now surrendered a league-high 20 goals in the third period this postseason.
Chicago, which began the year 21-0-3 and won the Presidents’ Trophy with the league’s best record, has now won two straight in the series, after dropping three in a row.
The other series in the Western Conference between San Jose and Los Angeles also will be decided in Game 7, which takes play Tuesday in Los Angeles.
“It’s not like they came in here and squashed us,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “They got what we gave them. If I would’ve told Detroit and Michigan we would play in Chicago in Game 7, I think everybody would be excited about that.
“I love Game 7s,” Babcock continued. “We’ve got a chance to push them out of the playoffs. It should be a lot of fun.”
It’s the second series in a row the Wings will go to the limit of games. They won Game 7 in Anaheim in the first round.
“I thought we did a pretty good job against Anaheim and now we’re back on the road playing a Game 7,” Kronwall said. “We’ve been there before now we just have to do it again.
“Early in the Anaheim series we were up a few goals as well, but I thought we got better as we went along in that series,” Kronwall added. “We weren’t on our toes at the beginning of the third and we let the game slip away.”
Just 51 seconds into the third period, Handzus tied things up having all day to pick his corner after a feed from Niklas Hjalmarsson down low. Handzus all alone after Brendan Smith over pursed the play.
Bickell put Chicago back in front, freeing himself enough from Smith to bat home the rebound off a shot by Jonathan Toews.
“We just realized it was a do-or-die situation,” Toews said. “We weren’t playing our best hockey and we were very conscious of that and it was the toughest game of the series, especially when they went up 2-1. They were flying and got the crowd going but credit to our guys for not getting fazed by that. A huge third period.”
Then, Frolik was awarded a penalty shot he made good on, going backhand to beat Howard high over his glove. Frolik broke in alone after blocking a shot of Carlo Colaiacovo and then was slashed by the Wings defenseman to get awarded the penalty shot.
“I didn’t have anything to lose,” Frolik said. “I was happy it went in. I have a few moves and this is one of them, and I tried some moves on Jimmy Howard before and they didn’t work out. This one I didn’t try, so I said, let’s give it a shot, and it worked out.”
“Doesn’t matter what I think,” Kronwall said when asked if he thought it was a penalty shot of not. “The ref made a call and that’s what it is.”
With the goalie pulled, Brunner made it a one-goal game scoring with 51.7 seconds left in the third period.
The Wings got back-to-back faceoffs with Howard pulled but could not get equalizer.
Andersson gave the Wings the lead just past the halfway point of the game with a well-placed knuckler off a pretty fed from Jakub Kindl just outside the Blackhawks’ end of the rink.
The Wings rookie forward took two strides over the blue line and sent a shot just over Brent Seabrook’s stick that Crawford whiffed on as it floated over his glove.
It took Chicago all of nine seconds to score on its first power play.
With Jakub Kindl in the box for interference, Toews drove to the side of the Wing’ goal and soon after the puck squirted off to the right of Howard where Hossa rushed in back just got a piece of it with his backhand before four minutes had elapsed in the opening period.
The goal was reviewed because the net was dislodged in the process, but the ruling on the ice stood.
The power play goal was the Blackhawks’ third in two games and Hossa’s first since Game 1 of the series.
The Wings’ fourth line tied things up with 1:09 left in the first period.
Smith started things with a nice touch pass off the boards to Drew Miller, whose immediate shot was stopped by Crawford. However, Eaves was there to grab the rebound and stuff it in short side before Crawford could get his left skate on the post.
Chicago is now 5-0 when scoring a PP goal and Detroit drops to 2-6 when allowing a PP goal.