Marian Hossa and Henrik Zetterberg each scored twice as the Detroit Red Wings decimated the Chicago Blackhawks 6-1 on Sunday afternoon, taking a 3-1 stranglehold on Western Conference Finals.
Prior to the game, Detroit lost the best defenceman in the NHL, and 6-time Norris Trophy winner Nicklas Lidstrom, to a lower body injury; MVP finalist Pavel Dastyuk remained out with a foot injury; and Kris Draper was a scratch due to a groin stain.
Johan Franzen and Valtteri Filppula also scored for the Wings, as Chris Osgood turned aside 18 shots through two periods in the blowout. The Red Wings scored three powerplay markers, as well as a short-handed goal.
The Blackhawks were shorthanded in net, as Nikolai Khabibulin was out again with a lower body injury. The team benefitted from Martin Havlat’s return to the lineup though. Would his return spark the ‘Hawks?
Not a chance.
Chicago goalie Cristobal Huet, making his first start of these playoffs in place of injured Khabibulin, gave up four goals and was pulled in the second. Rookie Corey Crawford took over for the last 15:55 of the period, but Huet returned in the third and gave up Zetterberg’s second power-play goal that made it 6-1.
Hossa scored a short-handed goal on a 2-on-1 fast break in the first, and Franzen sent the Red Wings ahead 2-0 with only 20.7 seconds left in the period with a hard and high shot from the right side.
Filppula scored on a power play just over a minute into the second period for a 3-0 lead. Detroit went on the power play after Chicago’s undisciplined Matt Walker was assessed a roughing penalty following a scrum at the end of the first.
A 3-0 lead at the start of the second – as was the case during Game 3 – was what the rally point was when Detroit started it’s comeback and tied it at 3-3 prior to the third. Could Chicago follow likewise?
After Toews scored to cut it to 3-1, Hossa skated in a mere 12 seconds later, and beat Huet for his second goal, forcing the hand of Joel Quenneville to sub in Crawford.
Huet returned to start the third and Ty Conklin gave Ozzie the rest of the night off.
Hossa’s scoring had been scarce thus far in the postseason. After scoring 40 goals during the regular season, he’d managed just four in the playoffs through Detroit’s 14 postseason games before Sunday.
Zetterberg made it 5-1 when he scored on the power play against Crawford when the Red Wings had a two-man advantage in the second.
Franzen’s 10th of the playoffs, just before the first ended, was a real momentum builder for Detroit. As Brian Campbell was skating in front of him to defend, Franzen unleashed the shot that got through Campbell and eluded Huet.
The goal came less than a minute after Osgood made a spectacular save on a streaking Toews.
Hossa put the Red Wings up early after four Blackhawks, including Campbell, got caught deep in the Detroit zone. Hossa started a 2-on-1, short-handed break to the other end, when he played tic-tac-goal with Filppula, beating Huet.
Huet’s first appearance of the playoffs came Friday night in Game 3 when he replaced an injured Khabibulin (lower body) to start the third period of Chicago’s 4-3 overtime win.
No other team in the world can overcome such odds against them – not unless you’re the Detroit Red Wings. This team has such depth that the losses of three key players had absolutely zero effect on them.
Even without their star players, Detroit’s game plan remained the same, and their style of play once again dominated this young Blackhawks team, who’s inexperience is becoming the laughing stock of Detroit.
The defending Stanley Cup champions can clinch a return trip to the finals with a victory Wednesday at Joe Louis Arena.