Blackhawks chairman Rocky Wirtz releases statement on passing of Red Wings owner Mike Ilitch

Blackhawks chairman Rocky Wirtz releases statement on passing of Red Wings owner Mike Ilitch

Detroit lost an iconic sports figure Friday.

Mike Ilitch, who bought the Red Wings in 1982 and has been the Tigers owner since 1992, died at the age of 87.

Blackhawks chairman Rocky Wirtz released this statement on the passing of Ilitch:

On behalf of the Wirtz family and the Chicago Blackhawks, our thoughts and prayers are with the Ilitch family and the Detroit Red Wings organization. Mike was a very generous man who had an immeasurable impact on the city of Detroit, and the sport of hockey. Mike also touched many lives within our own organization. We mourn his loss with heavy hearts. He will be remembered as a successful businessman, philanthropist and an incredible family man.

Since Ilitch took ownership of the Red Wings, they have the best points percentage in the league at .587, and rank first in multiple categories such as playoff berths (30), division titles (16) and playoff series wins (37), according to TSN's StatsCentre.

They also won four Stanley Cups under his watch, which is the most since 1996-97.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman also released this statement:

With the passing of Mike Ilitch, the Red Wings have lost the consummate owner, the National Hockey League has lost a cherished friend and passionate builder, Detroit sports has lost a legend and the city of Detroit has lost not only a devoted native son but a visionary and driving force in the rebirth of downtown. 

Mike’s commitment to excellence and to winning were unparalleled and his commitment to the community was unrivaled – as was his boundless support of youth hockey. He was a prolific philanthropist, and, above all, a devoted partner and husband to his wife of 62 years, Marian. At this moment of heartbreaking sorrow, we send deepest condolences to the entire Ilitch family and to all who were privileged to know him, play for him or work for him.

Scotty Bowman, the Blackhawks' senior advisor of hockey operations, spent nine seasons with Detroit and helped the Red Wings win three Stanley Cups during his tenure. He offered his condolences on Twitter on Friday night:

Five Things from Blackhawks-Red Wings: Winning another tight one

Five Things from Blackhawks-Red Wings: Winning another tight one

Let's look at Five Things to take away from the Blackhawks' 4-3 overtime win over the Detroit Red Wings on Tuesday night:

1. Blackhawks' recent dominance against Detroit continues.

The Red Wings own a 336-269-14-84 record all-time in the regular season against Chicago, but it's the Blackhawks that have had their way with their arch rival in recent years.

With Tuesday's 4-3 overtime win, the Blackhawks improved to 12-1-4 in their last 17 meetings against Detroit. The final meeting of the season will be March 10 at the Joe Louis Arena.

"We were asked today, is there still a rivalry between Detroit and us?" Joel Quenneville said after the game. "I think you could sense it right off the bat, in the building, and the fans, and the chants, and the enthusiasm. ... It was fun playing against these guys. I think the players look forward to it because it’s always a good game and playing the right way against them is something we talk about a lot, that you have to do.

"But I still think there’s still some history there that it’s fun playing these guys. There’s a lot of mutual respect."

2. A productive night for the power play.

The Blackhawks had six power-play opportunities, and cashed in on two of those, most notably the game-winner in overtime thanks to a Duncan Keith slapper from the point.

It's an area the Blackhawks are trying to be more consistent in, and it could serve as a springboard going forward.

"The first one was OK, the second and third one we had a lot of chances," said Brian Campbell, who scored the first of two power-play goals. "We had a couple penalties, so you get 10 seconds on the power play, so it's still an 0-for — I know that makes the PP coach not very happy," he joked. "And obviously [Keith], 4-on-3, we haven't had one in a while but we struggled there early in the season so that was big to get that going."

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3. Brian Campbell back on the scoresheet.

Campbell had a 423-game iron-man streak that ended in December, in large part due to a crowded blue line. Nonetheless, he was still a healthy scratch in two of four games last month, but is starting to get more comfortable as of late.

He scored his fourth goal of the season on the power play in the win, which is now tied for second on the team among defensemen. 

"I think we're starting to roll our lines a lot better," he said. "We're picking up the tempo of the game a little more."

That suits Campbell's style.

4. Third line keeps shining.

The Blackhawks' third line of Ryan Hartman, Tanner Kero and Richard Panik combined for two goals and three assists, continuing their hot stretch. 

While they didn't have great possession numbers — they're certainly improving — the trio is most importantly gaining Joel Quenneville's trust on both ends of the ice.

"They were great tonight," Quenneville said. "You can talk about each one of them and describe their game. They’ve got some physicality in the puck area, they’ve got some separation, counter hits where they’ve got the puck protected. And made some good plays off the rush. They go to the net, they hang around the net. All their goals were like that.

"But they generated a lot of offense and offensive zone time, as well. They’re getting better. That line was outstanding."

5. Blackhawks win another tight one.

The Blackhawks' success in tight games continued with Tuesday's overtime win, improving to 17-6-5 in one-goal games this season. 

What gives?

Keith: "We've played a lot of tight games, and I think that's a good thing. 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."

Quenneville: "We had a lot of close games. Every game, you look around the league, they’re close games. I think the number of overtime games is a little higher than we’ve seen in the past. Everybody plays comparable. All the teams are pretty even. You look at the standings, you see just about every team .500 or above. I think 28 of the 30 are almost in that same neighborhood. I think teams know how to play to keep themselves in games. And then the score dictates a lot of the way the game is being played. Seems like there’s so much balance in the league, the parity’s as good as it’s ever been, or close as it’s ever been."

Blackhawks beat Red Wings in overtime to win fourth straight

Blackhawks beat Red Wings in overtime to win fourth straight

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."