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Depleted Red Wings edge Blackhawks in shootout 5-4

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Updated: January 22, 2014 11:54PM



DETROIT — Before hostilities resumed Wednesday night in the dormant Blackhawks-Red Wings feud, Detroit coach Mike Babcock scoffed a bit at the idea that this was a rivalry game. The way he saw it, it’s only a rivalry when both teams are good. And the Red Wings, quite frankly, haven’t been very good this season.

“I don’t think we’re holding up our end of the bargain,” Babcock said. “Rivalries are when two teams really get after one another. I thought we did last year in the playoffs. But we haven’t been a good enough team this year to consider this a rivalry-type game. … We used to be where they are, and now they’re where we were.”

Well, the Hawks seem to bring out the best in the Wings.

Decimated by injuries — including their biggest star and their No. 1 goaltender — mired in an offensive slump, and fading fast in the Eastern Conference playoff race, the Red Wings beat the Hawks 5-4 in a wild game, as Darren Helm scored in the sixth round of the shootout before Andrew Shaw was stopped by Jonas Gustavsson.

The Red Wings, without Pavel Datsyuk and five other regulars, as well as goalie Jimmy Howard, had scored just four total goals in its previous four games. But they looked a step faster and won more puck battles, taking advantage of an uncharacteristically ragged Hawks defense.

“We weren’t very good tonight,” Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said. “It was workmanlike on their side, and not so much on ours.”

Added Marian Hossa: “They skated better today than us. We were like half a step behind them.”

It was a game that Detroit defenseman Brendan Smith labeled a chance at “redemption” after the Hawks rallied from a 3-1 series deficit to win a stirring second-round series last spring. But in the early going, it looked more like a Hawks blowout in the making.

The Hawks raced out to a 2-0 lead midway through the first period on goals by Hossa and Andrew Shaw. But Detroit bounced back, as Tomas Tatar fired a rebound off Johnny Oduya’s stick, and then Patrick Eaves took a nifty kick-pass from a stick-less Justin Abdelkader to make it 2-2 through one.

And the barnburner was on.

“It was great hockey,” said Hossa, who was whistled for a rare cross-checking penalty in the third after he took exception with a couple of slashes from Brian Lashoff. “Lots of intensity, lots of tight battles, small holds that the referee couldn’t see — that’s how it is against this team. They’re smart, they hold you.”

The intensity only picked up in the second period. Patrick Sharp scored his first goal in eight games just six seconds into a power play at 5:03, restoring the Hawks’ lead at 3-2. The Hawks had been 0-for-12 on the power play in their previous three games, and 2-for-24 in their previous eight. But Kyle Quincey and Gustav Nyquist scored to give the Wings a 4-3 lead through two.

This time, it was the Hawks that rallied, as Marcus Kruger — who won his first 11 faceoffs — rang one off the pipe and in 5:12 into the third period to tie it back up.

The rest of the third period and overtime was a raucous affair worthy of the rivalry’s storied past — both recent and distant — with several scoring chances at both ends of the rink. It came all the way down to golden Hawks chances in the very last second of both regulation and overtime, before the Wings picked up the bonus point in the shootout.

It was the Hawks’ 17th overtime game this season. They haven’t scored in OT in any of them.

“I don’t think it was our best game,” defenseman Duncan Keith said. “We know we can be better in most areas. But we got one point, and we were right there, close to getting two.”

Email: mlazerus@suntimes.com

Twitter: @marklazerus



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