Blackhawks’ supporting cast comes up huge in opener
BY MARK POTASH firstname.lastname@example.org May 15, 2013 11:10PM
Updated: June 18, 2013 7:57AM
Johnny Oduya was a humble, unsung hero Wednesday night. The Blackhawks never seem to run out of those.
While the Hawks’ stars played like stars in the Blackhawks’ 4-1 victory over the Detroit Red Wings at the United Center, supporting cast members ultimately made the difference as the Hawks took a 1-0 lead in their Western Conference semifinal series.
Oduya took advantage of a workmanlike shift by the second line of Patrick Sharp, Michael Handzus and Patrick Sharp to break a 1-1 tie with a 30-foot wrist shot with 11:58 left in regulation. And some fourth-line hustle by Daniel Carcillo led to Marcus Kruger’s all-important insurance goal with 8:37 left.
‘‘Getting the win is the only thing that matters,’’ said Oduya, who has two goals in the postseason. ‘‘Anybody could have scored that goal at that point. We had a lot of chances. I’m lucky I got it in there.’’
Oduya’s opportunity came at the end of a 62-second shift. When Sharp drew defenders while working the puck along the boards, Oduya alertly drifted into the gap near the slot for an open shot.
‘‘He sneaks in there,’’ Sharp said of Oduya. ‘‘It was a great play by Johnny. I saw him pinching in and I felt he was wide open. And he called for the puck. I don’t even know if I went on his tape or behind him. I just kind of threw it to an area and he did the rest.’’
The tie-breaking goal was emblematic of the way the Hawks outworked the Red Wings in the third period.
‘‘That was a long shift,’’ Sharp said. ‘‘It was a hard-working shift by Michael, Patrick and myself. A whole five-man unit was keeping on the boards, grinding and getting it back. Johnny got lost, found himself open and made a great play.’’
As Oduya noted, the Hawks did not sit on the lead. Minutes later, Carcillo hustled to free a puck that was lying on the back of the Red Wings’ net, leading to Kruger’s backhander in front of Jimmy Howard that made it 3-1.