What a game!
The Blackhawks faced their toughest test of the season in Detroit on Sunday, but came away with two points because of an extraordinary effort from Corey Crawford.
Crawford stopped 32 of 33 shots, with 29 of his saves coming after the first period. He was, personally, the reason the Hawks had the opportunity to tie the game up late; if not for Crawford’s play, the Hawks could have easily lost by two or three goals.
However, Detroit’s Jimmy Howard was every bit Crawford’s equal in the game. He stopped the same 32 of 33 in the game, and allowed his Red Wings teammates to be in a game that was controlled by the Blackhawks through the first 30 minutes.
Sunday’s game had the look and feel of a postseason game, and the two netminders were worthy of the national audience.
Early in the third, Tomas Tatar skated past Daniel Carcillo to the front of the net and put the Wings on the board. For most of the third, it looked like that might be all Detroit needed to end the Blackhawks’ streak; neither goalie was letting anything through.
But late powerplay opportunities gave the Blackhawks life, and Patrick Kane tied the score off a nice pass from Viktor Stalberg with just over two minutes remaining in regulation. In the game, Chicago converted one of four powerplays, while Detroit was scoreless on two advantages.
For Kane, the goal 11th of the season and came at the tail end of a long day of hard work. With coach Joel Quenneville skating seven defensemen in the game, it was Kane that was asked to double-shift more than anyone else; Kane skated 23:29 in the game (second on the roster behind only Duncan Keith’s 24:43).
Sheldon Brookbank was called upon to be the team’s seventh defensemen (or 13th forward), but only took five shifts in the game. The Hawks’ fourth line didn’t see much action as a group. Daniel Carcillo had a bad game; he was minus-one and was called for hooking in the second period while only skating 8:02 in the game.
Appropriately, the overtime period continued the intense play back and forth and ended without either goaltender allowing a goal. So the game (unfortunately) was completed in the shootout.
Crawford was brilliant against Datsyuk, Damien Brunner and Zetterberg to earn the Hawks a second point. For Howard, the only Chicago player to solve him all day was Kane. But the Hawks superstar did it twice.
The Hawks were able to control the flow early by winning faceoffs, and had perhaps their best effort as a group at the dot of the season against a good Red Wings team. Jonathan Toews won 10 of 18 faceoffs, while Marcus Kruger won eight of 16 and Patrick Sharp won five of nine. Detroit relied heavily on Pavel Datsyuk (who won 12 of 24) and Henrik Zetterberg (who won only seven of 18).
Sunday was the ninth consecutive victory for the Blackhawks, tying a franchise record set Dec. 7-28, 2008.
Now 19-0-3, Chicago returns to the United Center to face the Wild on Tuesday night.