DETROIT -- The Chicago Blackhawks pulled out all the stops to avoid elimination in Game 5. They’ll have to do all that and more to avoid it again in Game 6 tonight.
The Blackhawks are still feeling good, are still confident as they face the Detroit Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena tonight. But the Red Wings say they’ve learned from the mistakes they made on Saturday, and don’t intend on making them again.
“We were just a little tentative (in Game 5). We didn’t dictate the game, and we had been doing that the last few games. They fed off that,” Brendan Smith said following today’s skates. “They’re going to be desperate. They have to win or they’re gong home. We just didn’t answer like we have in previous game. We have to play better tonight and use our fans to help us out and get the momentum that way.”
For the Blackhawks, it’s rinse and repeat Game 5 in every facet. But…
“Tonight’s going to be even tougher,” Patrick Kane said. “We’re on the road against a team that plays well here. For us, we have to try to seize the momentum we have (from Game 5) and take it over into Game 6. It was fun playing that Game 5. That’s how we need to play. We had close to 50 shots, every line was rolling and we got some power-play goals. Hopefully we can get momentum tonight.”
The Blackhawks put their super line together of Patrick Sharp, Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane together prior to Game 5. Toews capitalized on the power play, scoring his first goal of this postseason. But as Detroit coach Mike Babcock points out, the top two lines usually cancel each other out and it’s up to the depth guys to get the job done. His third line has done it several times this series. The Blackhawks’ third line players were more noticeable in Game 5.
“That’s why they give you the third line and that’s who usually wins the series,” Babcock said. “You talk about everyone else, but you get mismatches. The third line, coach can play anyone vs. anyone. That’s what’s happened for us. Our third line’s gotten better. But it was like the rest of our group the other night: not very good.”
It’s another potential elimination game for the Blackhawks. If they play like they did in their first one the other night, they’ll force another one on Wednesday.
“We talked in the morning, had a meeting ahead of practice little visit at the end of it. Our (attitude) was in the right place but it’s going to be a hard game tonight,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “You don’t have to say too much right now anyway, but I like the focus.”