A Saturday matinee once again treated the Blackhawks poorly, and the Red Wings handed the Hawks a loss equal to the defeat Chicago had given Detroit earlier in the week.
The Hawks got on the board first, as a pretty passing sequence started by Patrick Sharp ended with Patrick Kane’s first postseason goal since Game 5 of the 2011 playoffs. But that was all Jimmy Howard would allow on Saturday.
And the Hawks didn’t make him work very hard the rest of the way. Detroit limited the Hawks to only 20 shots, 19 of which were stopped by Howard.
Howard wasn’t the only star to step up for the Red Wings. Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk both played at the world-class level fans have become accustomed to seeing from the Red Wings two best forwards, and the Blackhawks had no answer for either.
Zetterberg had two assists in the game, while Datsyuk won 11 of 17 faceoffs. Zetterberg was charged with frustrating Jonathan Toews all day, and was effective doing just that; Chicago’s captain won only nine of 22 faceoffs and had zero points in the game.
The Wings’ captain made a series of moves on his assist to Brendan Smith (video), which ultimately was the game-winner. Zetterberg kept his stick between the puck and a lunging Niklas Hjalmarsson, controlled the puck and put it between Duncan Keith’s legs to the streaking Smith for an easy goal.
Just as he did to one Jack Adams finalist - Bruce Boudreau - in the final game of the first round, Mike Babcock forced another - Joel Quenneville – to mix his lines in an effort to match the visiting Babcock.
Michal Handzus once again looked slow between Sharp and Kane, and was ultimately replaced there by Dave Bolland for a number of shifts. Daniel Carcillo, who led the Hawks with seven hits, didn’t see much ice time after taking a dumb penalty in the second period; Carcillo was limited to only 7:40 in Game Two. There’s a chance Viktor Stalberg could replace either of those forwards for Game Three in Detroit.
Another disturbing trend is the regularity of Bolland’s visits to the penalty box. He’s already been called for five minor penalties in only two postseason games against Detroit. While the Hawks’ penalty kill continues to be perfect in the postseason, the frequency of Bolland’s penalties hasn’t been a positive.
Corey Crawford struggled to control the puck in the first period, but came back with better rebound control in the second. Unfortunately, he didn’t get as much help from the skaters in front of him in this game as he did in Game One; after facing only 21 shots in the first game of the series, the Wings put 20 on net in the first 40 minutes on Saturday. When the game ended, Crawford had allowed four goals against 30 shots, but none of them were “soft.”
The series is now tied, and the Red Wings have taken away the Hawks’ home ice advantage. After Babcock adjusted from a stunning defeat after Game One, the ball is now in Quenneville’s court to match Detroit’s coach at his building in Game Three.