DETROIT -- The game lived up to every bit of billing as a rivalry night: Whatever the standings say, the Detroit Red Wings and Chicago Blackhawks remain close on ice.
Showing the rivalry simmers even as the sides have been separated by conference, the Detroit Red Wings rallied and roared Wednesday night at Joe Louis Arena, using a rare offensive spurt to challenge the top-scoring Chicago Blackhawks.
The Wings earned two much-needed points with a 5-4 shootout victory that went six rounds before Darren Helm sealed the win.
It was the first meeting since Detroit lost a 3-1 edge in the second-round series last spring against Chicago, eventually falling in overtime in Game 7. Re-alignment has reduced meetings to twice a season, and while the Blackhawks rank among the elites while Detroit looks middling, this night, there was little separation.
By midway through the second period, the Wings had scored as many times as in the four previous games combined, building a 4-3 lead off goals from Tomas Tatar, Patrick Eaves, Kyle Quincey and Gustav Nyquist. Justin Abdelkader was outstanding in setting up Eaves and Nyquist.
It didn't look like it was going to go that way when the Blackhawks rolled out a 2-0 lead by midway through the game. Marian Hossa made quick work of Jonathan Toews pass, and Andrew Shaw swung his stick wildly to knock a rebound past Jonas Gustavsson. The Blackhawks average an NHL-best 3.5 goals per game, and were on their way to accomplish that just in the first period.
It was huge, then, when Tatar eyed Brendan Smith's rebound inside of a minute of Shaw's goal, sending the puck five-hole on Corey Crawford. Before the period ended, the Wings had made it 2-2, with Eaves sending a rising slap shot into the net after a nifty kick-pass by Abdelkader. The Wings, remarkably, outshot the defending Stanley Cup champions, 12-11.
The Blackhawks retook the lead 6 seconds into a power play in the second period, with Patrick Sharp sending a beauty of a shot in from the top of the right circle. Quincey evened that deficit within minutes, taking advantage of traffic to beat Crawford from the high slot.
Abdelkader continued his good night when he chased the puck into the corner and sent it to Henrik Zetterberg, who spotted an open Nyquist for a go-ahead goal midway through the second period. Brandon Saad's one-man Slovakian spree earned the Wings a 4-minute power play after Saad slashed Tomas Jurco and hooked Tatar on the same play. The power play hasn't been much good while the Wings have been without Pavel Datsyuk and Daniel Alfredsson, among others, and sure enough, there was no conversion during the 2:47 spent with an extra skater before an interference call on Daniel Cleary nullified the last 1:17 of the Saad power play.
The Wings went from one short penalty kill to a regular one when Quincey got called for tripping early in the third period, stifling the chance of building on their lead. Instead it was gone by the five-minute mark, when Marcus Kruger burned Smith for a turnover with a tying goal. A fourth Detroit power play saw better scoring chances from the Blackhawks.
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