The Blackhawks and Red Wings square off only twice a year now after the NHL realignment sent Detroit to the Eastern Conference at the start of the 2013-14 season, so it's only fitting the former division rivals brought their A-games in the first meeting of the year.
And it was a wild one.
The Blackhawks knocked off the Red Wings 4-3 in overtime at the United Center on Tuesday night, but Detroit didn't make it easy on Chicago, as usual.
Brian Campbell got the scoring started when he blasted home his fourth goal of the season on the power play from the point to give the Blackhawks a 1-0 lead. Twenty-six seconds later, Richard Panik cleaned up Ryan Hartman's shot off a breakaway for his 10th goal of the season.
The Blackhawks held a 16-7 shot advantage and they appeared destined to coast to a victory.
But the ice tilted in Detroit's favor at the start of the second period when Andreas Athanasiou snapped a wicked wrist shot past Corey Crawford to cut the Blackhawks' lead to 2-1.
Tomas Tatar, who committed two penalties on the evening, evened up the score at 2-2 seconds after coming out of the box for serving a hooking penalty at 9:09, silencing a sold-out crowd of 22,019.
Tanner Kero reignited the Blackhawks though when he potted his first goal of the season with 1:42 left in the second. It was his second consecutive game with a point, but he's continuing to show he's reliable on both ends of the ice.
"I think he’s been good, watching him playing and work his way where all of a sudden we’re giving him more important ice time," Joel Quenneville said of Kero. "He’s been killing penalties. You want him out there in defensive-zone situations and offensively he’s got some game, as well. We’ll see how it all sorts out, but he’s certainly helping himself."
But again, the Red Wings responded after Luke Glendening got it right back with 19 seconds remaining to even it up at 3-3.
After a scoreless third period, Duncan Keith netted the game-winner 38 seconds into overtime on the power play to extend the team's winning streak to four games.
They also improved to 12-1-4 against the Red Wings over their last 17 meetings, and are now 17-6-5 in one-goal games this season.
"We've played a lot of tight games, and I think that's a good thing," Keith said. "We're finding ways to win some of them. I think we know that there's still room for improvement if we want to be a team that goes all the way. We're not going to get ahead of ourselves. We know there's still half a season here, but we've done good things. We're trying to get better."
The Blackhawks knew they had to steer the ship in the right direction entering this four-game homestand after going 1-4-1 in their previous six games.
And they did just that, collecting eight out of a possible eight points before hitting the road for three of their next four games.
"It was good," Quenneville said of the homestand. "We wanted to take advantage of our home schedule here, getting back on track. I thought we had a good December, slowed down right around Christmas coming out of it. But we've been playing better. I thought tonight was a real solid game. A little slow in the second, but I thought we did some good things across the board. Obviously a great play on the winner there in overtime. Big win for us."