CHICAGO | Creating more traffic by Detroit Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard and finally reviving their near-moribund power play were the goals Saturday night as the Blackhawks season teetered on the brink.
Mission accomplished. The Hawks, still down in games 3-2, booked a Monday night Game 6 in Detroit via a 4-1 victory over the Red Wings.
“We have an opportunity in Game 6 to force another game (back here Wednesday night),” said Hawks captain Jonathan Toews. “We did some good things, (played) good hockey at times in Games 3 and 4 in Detroit and we came up short. This is our chance to redeem ourselves on the road.”
The Hawks nailed a pair of second-period power play goals two-and-a-half minutes apart by Andrew Shaw and Toews – his first score of the postseason – to take control of the game with a 3-1 lead. The Hawks had scored just two goals in the previous three straight losses to the Wings.
Shaw scored his second goal in the third as the Hawks played perhaps their most aggressive game of the postseason so far, swarming Howard at point-blank range.
“Howard’s a great goalie,” Shaw said. “When he sees pucks, he’s going to stop them. We tried to create as much havoc as we could in front of the net. It worked to our advantage.”
Brian Bickell achieved one objective by putting the Hawks up 1-0 in the first as he and his teammates swarmed the stingy Howard. They took advantage of a Wings start coach Mike Babcock labeled “tentative.”
The same strategy worked in the third period as Shaw tallied his second goal of the game on a wraparound poke into the corner of the net amid a flurry of bodies.
Meanwhile, the Hawks finally benefited from their power play in the second period just in time – and for the sanity of the beleaguered Toews.
Shaw re-directed a Duncan Keith slapper at 13:08 of the second for only the Hawks’ second power-play goal of the series.
Toews followed with his first goal of the postseason on a tough-angle shot from the right that zoomed over Howard’s left shoulder.
“We worked hard to get position and we had success, so it’s something we need to keep doing,” said Toews.
Shaking things up, Hawks coach Joel Quenneville’s first line was Bickell and Marian Hossa, centered by Michal Handzus. Toews was re-united with Patrick Kane and Patrick Sharp.
Shaw was flanked by Viktor Stalberg and former first-liner Brandon Saad on the third line. Meanwhile, Dave Bolland fell to center on the fourth line.