Blackhawks rally to beat Red Wings, cap big month
By Adam L. Jahns firstname.lastname@example.org December 30, 2011 11:52PM
Marian Hossa looks back after beating Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard for a goal in the second period. | John J. Kim~Sun-Times
Updated: February 1, 2012 8:11AM
That’s what Detroit Red Wings standout forwards Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg combined for Friday against the Blackhawks at the United Center. It embodied the solid defensive effort — from the blue line to the forwards to goalie Corey Crawford — the Hawks needed and received to pull out their impressive come-from-behind 3-2 victory against their rivals.
Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa provided the offensive highlights with a nifty goal each, and defenseman Brent Seabrook scored the game-winner for the Hawks. Crawford benefitted from a couple posts, but still had a solid 26-save performance.
It was a great finish to a great month for the Hawks, who went 10-2-1 in December. With their victory, the Hawks have a five-point lead over the Red Wings in the standings. The Hawks will face their rivals two more times in the next seven games.
“It was a great hockey game,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “It definitely had the playoff atmosphere right from the outset, from the anthem on. They had some fans, we had plenty. It was a noisy place.
“[But] I liked how we competed. I liked how we played. I thought we had pace. We had strength [and] we had support. Across the board, I’m very happy with the effort.”
It was needed because the Hawks fell behind 1-0 and 2-1 and their power play went 0-for-5. The Hawks’ stars brought them back each time. Seabrook scored the game-winner 1:52 into the third period when Patrick Kane found him wide open at the top of the slot.
“You’ve got the two top teams in the Central Division, it’s going to be a tough game,” Seabrook said. “We needed the points and so did they. It was a battle.”
In the first period, Toews beat Jimmy Howard (25 saves) five-hole on a penalty shot, which he was awarded after getting hooked by star defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom after he was sprung by defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson’s pass.
“I couldn’t believe I got a second chance on that one, but I’m thankful for it,” said Toews, who is 1-for-2 in his career on penalty shots. “It was a nice pass from [Hjalmarsson] and I kind of lost the puck and a guy got his stick on me. Sometimes they don’t always see that, but it’s nice to get that second chance on the penalty shot. I made no mistake there.”
But the Hawks had to respond again. Nearly two minutes after Todd Bertuzzi was credited with a goal after Mike Commodore’s shot deflected off him at 5:25 in the second, Hossa skated around the Red Wings defense and fired a slap shot from the left circle to tie it.
Before the game, Quenneville talked about the importance of countering the Red Wings after they scored because they tend to do so in bunches. It’s easier said than done, but the Hawks did it, thanks to their defensive play.
“When they get up by two, they’re as good as anybody with that lead,” Quenneville said. “I thought that even when we were down, in those instances, I still liked the way we were playing at those points.”
It’s not that the Hawks need a morale booster after their strong start in the first half, but their victory against the Red Wings feels good.
“It’s good for our confidence,” Hjalmarsson said. “It’s the first time we played these guys this season. It’s a good feeling in this locker room.”