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Blackhawks lose second straight to Red Wings, trail 2-1 in series

Updated: May 21, 2013 5:45AM



DETROIT — There were no signs of panic in the Blackhawks’ dressing room following Monday night’s 3-1 loss to the Detroit Red Wings, a loss that put them in a 2-1 hole in the Western Conference semifinal. No signs of emotions boiling over. No smashed sticks, no flipped-over pizza tables, no primal screams of anguish echoing down the tunnel and into the dank bowels of Joe Louis Arena.

The Hawks are frustrated, yes. Frustrated by good scoring chances gone bad, by uncharacteristic defensive breakdowns, by a consistently futile power play, by their own failures and those they see in the officiating.

But they’re not panicking. Not yet.

Even if a dream season appears on the verge of becoming a nightmare.

“Just because we haven’t faced a whole lot of adversity this year doesn’t mean we’ve never faced it in our lives before,” defenseman Duncan Keith said. “Let’s face it: Winning in the playoffs isn’t easy. It’s not always going to go your way.”

And it’s not going the Hawks’ way at all right now. Despite out-shooting the Red Wings 40-30, despite dominating play for much of the game, despite creating plenty of good scoring opportunities, the Hawks came up short again against the aggressive, speedy, pesky Wings.

The turning point was a disallowed Viktor Stalberg goal that would have tied the game at 2-2 early in the third period — Andrew Shaw was in the crease, and despite the fact that he didn’t appear to make any real contact with Detroit goaltender Jimmy Howard, the goal was waved off without an interference penalty being called — but the Hawks had plenty of other opportunities to take this one, too.

The game — and the Hawks’ frustrations — were encapsulated perfectly by the first eight minutes and 20 seconds of the second period. For the first six minutes, the Hawks looked like the Hawks again. They held on to the puck, they sustained pressure, they forechecked aggressively and they fired pucks on the net. Poor Drew Miller got caught on the ice for a three-minute, 15-second shift as the Hawks’ relentless attack wouldn’t let him get off the ice.

Then it all fell apart.

The Red Wings scored two goals in a 31-second span, as the Hawks defense — which allowed too many odd-man breaks in a dreadful 4-1 Game 2 loss — stumbled again. First, Gustav Nyquist danced right around Brent Seabrook after taking a perfect chip pass over Nick Leddy’s head from Damien Brunner, luring Corey Crawford out wide and beating him after he hit the ice at 7:49.

Thirty-one seconds later, a disastrous shift for Michal Rozsival — so steady and reliable all season — led to a goal by Miller. First, Rozsival’s clearing attempt was sent right to Cory Emmerton. Then, Rozsival lost track of his man, Patrick Eaves, who took an Emmerton pass and walked in on net for a quick shot. Finally, Rozsival (and Johnny Oduya) couldn’t prevent Miller from forcing his way into the crease for the tap-in goal.

The two goals came on exactly the type of lapses the Hawks had vowed to eliminate.

But the Hawks came back to life in the third — first aided by the refs, then devastated by the refs. First, a hard-charging Patrick Kane — after a quiet two periods — somehow corralled a high, bouncing three-line pass from Keith and beat Howard five-hole. The play happened as Johan Franzen lay crumpled on the ice in the far end of the rink thanks to a hit by Niklas Hjalmarsson that went without a whistle.

Barely a minute later, though, Stalberg’s apparent game-tying goal was disallowed. And 66 seconds after that, Pavel Datsyuk beat Corey Crawford (27 saves) with a blistering wrist shot to make it 3-1 and put the game away.

“We just couldn’t find a way to get that bounce; we got a lot of looks,” said Stalberg, who had a very strong game after a two-game benching. “We’ve just got to regroup, get ready for Thursday. We still have that feeling in this locker room that we’re going to win this series. It’s first to four, and we’ve got three to win. Simple as that.”

The Hawks have been here before. During the Stanley Cup run in 2010, they fell behind 2-1 to the Nashville Predators in the first round. They now have lost consecutive games for just the fourth time all season. They’ve yet to lose three straight in 2013 — and they’d better keep that streak alive in Thursday’s Game 4, or it really will be time to panic.

“It takes something like this to slap you in the face, so to speak, to really understand what adversity is and how tough the playoffs can be,” Jonathan Toews said. “A lot of guys in this room have been in tough positions before in the playoffs and that’s never stopped us. We know this is a long series and we’re going to be fighting until the end.”



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