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Blackhawks lose to Red Wings, but fortunate to land playoff spot

RED WINGS 4,BLACKHAWKS 3

Detroit 0 2 2 — 4

BLACKHAWKS 0 1 2 — 3

First Period—None. Penalties—Holmstrom, Det (delay of game), 1:44; Ericsson, Det (holding), 15:23.

Second Period—1, HAWKS, Frolik 11 (Kane), 5:18. 2, Detroit, Holmstrom 18, 6:56. 3, Detroit, Datsyuk 23 (Cleary, Bertuzzi), 7:58. Penalties—Rafalski, Det (roughing), 14:58; Kopecky, HAWKS (roughing), 14:58.

Third Period—4, Detroit, Miller 10 (V.Filppula, Hudler), 1:56. 5, HAWKS, Seabrook 9 (Hjalmarsson, Stalberg), 4:07. 6, Detroit, Cleary 26 (Bertuzzi, Rafalski), 8:11. 7, HAWKS, Keith 7 (Sharp, Hossa), 11:22. Penalties—Ericsson, Det (holding), 17:02.

Shots on Goal—Detroit 10-12-9—31. HAWKS 10-9-17—36. Power-play opportunities—Detroit 0 of 0; HAWKS 0 of 3.

Goalies—Detroit, Howard 37-17-5 (36 shots-33 saves). HAWKS, Crawford 33-18-6 (31-27).

Referees—Paul Devorski, Stephen Walkom. Linesmen—Mark Shewchyk, Steve Miller.

A—22,046 (19,717). T—2:23.

Inside the Blackhawks: News, notes & updates

Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM



Jonathan Toews was one of the last players to leave the bench. He also was one of the last to leave the locker room. And he probably was one of the last to leave the United Center.

The Blackhawks captain didn’t quite know what to make of the situation he found himself and his team in. He was “pretty much speechless” after the Hawks lost control of their playoff fate with a 4-3 loss to the ­rival Detroit Red Wings on Sunday.

It was “pretty frustrating,” Toews said, that the Hawks were at the mercy of the Dallas Stars and what the Minnesota Wild could do against them. It was the first time it dawned on Toews that he actually could be sitting and watching the playoffs instead of playing in them.

“A lot of times, I sit here and answer your questions after losses, and it’s easy to describe what may have gone wrong,” Toews said. “When it’s a culmination of an 82-game season and you’re sitting here in this situation after working hard for such a long season [and] with the group that we have, it’s unreal to be here. . . . No, I never felt this would happen. Never does it enter your mind, the fact that you might not make the playoffs.”

It may do Toews and the Hawks some good to remember those feelings because they should consider it a direct act by the hockey gods that the injury-plagued Wild played spoiler later Sunday and doused the Stars’ playoff hopes with a 5-3 victory.

Consider it fate that the Hawks get a chance to defend their title as an eighth seed and face the Vancouver Canucks — a team they’ve eliminated the last two postseasons, but the best team by far this year — in the first round starting Wednesday.

“I’ve never been more excited after a hockey game in my life that I didn’t participate in,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “I was acting like a 2-year-old, celebrating — maybe a 3-, 4- or 5-year-old celebrating his birthday. . . . I was shocked, surprised by how the whole game unfolded.”

Now the onus is on the Hawks to prove anything can happen in the playoffs, as they’ve been saying all year.

“Hey, 97 points over the course of the year when you’re targeted isn’t such a bad year,” Quenneville said. “We know playing against Vancouver we’ve got to be special and we’ve got to be great. But . . . anything can happen. . . . Everybody is close. All the teams are basically comparably even. Let’s go find out.”

The Hawks are a good enough team to be in the playoffs despite the circumstances needed for them to qualify. In past years, 97 points have been good enough for fourth or fifth. But this was a crazily competitive year in which a new precedent was set for what it takes to make the playoffs.

There are plenty of things to be concerned about with the Hawks, such as inexperience among their depth players, injuries to Dave Bolland and Troy Brouwer, how Corey Crawford handles the grind of the playoffs, their knack for complacency and their impotent power play.

Some of those deficiencies showed up against the Red Wings, who clearly were angered by what the Hawks did to them a game earlier. On Sunday, Detroit rallied in the second period, responded when challenged in the third, played physically and killed off the Hawks’ three power plays en route to their win.

“That team was pretty desperate to end our season,” Toews said. “That was their motivation, and they did the best they could.”

But the Hawks managed to survive, and they avoided becoming the fifth team to not make the playoffs the season after winning the Stanley Cup.

“At the end of the day, we got a break — a huge break,” Quenneville said. “Let’s look to take advantage of it because we’re very fortunate to be in the position we’re in today.”



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