Faster skating, dictating the tempo more, firing a plethora of shots at the opposing goaltender: that is Chicago Blackhawks hockey. And it was more evident Wednesday night than in any other postseason game they’ve had thus far. Patrick Sharp had a three-point night and Johnny Oduya scored the game-winner as the Blackhawks beat the Detroit Red Wings, 4-1, in Game 1 of their Western Conference semifinal series. The Blackhawks struck first, shaking off the rust from a six-day layoff and upping the intensity and pace as the game continued. In their first six postseason games, this one definitely stood out. “I thought that was probably our best game of the postseason so far,” said goaltender Corey Crawford, who stopped 20 of 21 for the victory. “We had a lot of pressure, put lot of pucks on net and we were skating great. It was one of our better performances.” It was hard to argue with the assessment. The Blackhawks preached throughout the first round that they lacked the right intensity and pace, and still hadn’t come close to playing their best. Save some sluggish moments in the first period, they were pretty darn close to that on Wednesday. “Much better from our prior series, and what we were talking about in our team game was in place,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “We had some pace, had some speed and some zone time and everybody contributed. Obviously you get scoring chances, you can draw penalties, get second opportunities and you can tire them out. That’s easier said than done, but certainly you’re on an advantage if you get more zone time. The last series we didn’t get much. Let’s look forward to trying to get more.” After a pretty even first period in which Marian Hossa scored a power-play goal and Damien Brunner tied it less than two minutes later, the Blackhawks took off. They brought the pressure on the Wings and especially Jimmy Howard, who withstood that pressure for a good amount of the game. Howard finished with 38 stops of 41 shots.
Blackhawks strike first, take Game 1
CSN Chicago | May 16