What a difference a game made for defenseman Brendan Smith.

Singled out by most analysts and fans for a subpar Game 1, Smith scored the eventual winning goal Saturday in the Red Wings' 4-1 victory over the Blackhawks that evened the best-of-seven series at a game apiece. The same folks on Twitter or other Internet sights who bristled at Smith the night before suddenly were behind him again.

"You're always trying to redeem yourself," Smith said.

Actually, Smith went over the video with coach Mike Babcock and the pair didn't think Smith's Game 1 performance was as bad as others believed.

The fact Babcock was entirely in his corner helped Smith considerably.

"That made me feel real good. Coach will tell you how it is if you don't play very well, he'll tell you," Smith said. "We both kind went over things and we didn't think all the criticism I got wasn't as bad as people were saying.

"If I did play a much worse game, he would have told me and would have been honest and you guys (in the media) all know from how he talks to the media. It showed a lot of confidence and that he will stand up against somebody and show what he believes in, and that helps a young guy like myself."

Smith's defensive partner Kyle Quincey and other teammates backed Smith, too. He appreciated the boost.

"That helps a lot." Smith said.

Babcock felt Smith — who in Game 2 played 16:03 and was credited with three shots, two blocked shots and no giveaways — was one of the better Red Wings on the ice.

"Smith was outstanding," Babcock said.

Smith still had his adventures in Game 2. He lost a battle along the boards to Patrick Sharp in the first period that led to the Blackhawks' only goal.

But late in the game, Smith was in better position on a similar play, showing the lesson had been learned.