“You lose hockey games. It’s not the end of the world. But the way you played is hard to take.”
Detroit coach Mike Babcock was referring to the Red Wings’ Game 1 performance with that quote. The Wings had that bad outing and bounced back from it.
In Game 2, it was the Chicago Blackhawks with that hard-to-take game.
Patrick Kane scored his first postseason goal since the spring of 2011, but it was an otherwise dominating performance by Detroit in a 4-1 victory on Saturday afternoon. The Red Wings have evened the series at 1-1 heading into Game 3, which will be in Detroit on Monday night.
For the Blackhawks, they knew there would be no surprises on Saturday. They knew the Red Wings, who weren’t even close to their best in Game 1, would come out determined and desperate not to fall 0-2 in this series. The Wings were strong from start to finish. The Blackhawks, on the other hand, were as far from their Game 1 performance as they could get.
“Our game was way off as far as the pace we needed and we weren’t smart in certain areas,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “The first 10 minutes the pace was probably as fast as any point through the first four periods (of the series). But we didn’t sustain it, didn’t do what we were hoping to do over the course of the last 50 minutes.”
Corey Crawford allowed four goals on 30 minutes. Brendan Smith got what proved to be the game-winner late in the second period off a Henrik Zetterberg pass.
“Whether I played well or it’s a game I want to forget about, it’s always about the next game,” Crawford said. “We’ll take some time to think about what we can do better and just get back at it and play hard.”
Brent Seabrook said they’ll keep it in perspective.
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“We’re pissed off about this afternoon but at the end of the day it’s one game,” he said. “Both teams would be stupid if they thought they’d come in here and either team would win four straight. It’s a series. We knew it would be a battle. Obviously over the years of playing these guys, we know it’s going to be a hard, tough series. We have to prepare better for Monday.”
Yes they do, because the Blackhawks looked like a frustrated group all around on Saturday. The Blackhawks won the hits edge on the scoresheet (36-26); but the Wings got more physical with Chicago’s top players more than the Blackhawks did with Detroit’s best.
“There was a lot of clutch and grab, a lot of interference and if they let that go that’s something we need to know and do to them a little bit,” said Jonathan Toews, who’s still looking for his first goal of this postseason. “It’s tough to understand sometimes why we get roughing penalties and hooking penalties, whatever it is, and it doesn’t go both ways. It is what it is. If that’s the way it’s going to be, we have to understand that and be more physical and tougher on them. We’ll know that going into the next one.”
The Blackhawks have to be better all around in the next one. The first 10 minutes was typical Blackhawks-Red Wings hockey: great pace, back-and-forth, fun-to-watch action. And if you’re a Red Wings fan, that continued over the final 50 minutes. For the Blackhawks, not so much.
While Kane’s goal gave the Blackhawks a 1-0 lead at the end of the first period, it didn’t inspire them to raise their game. Much like the Blackhawks were in Game 1, the Wings were stronger, faster and better through the final two periods. They were more defensively sound, as goaltender Jimmy Howard only had to see 20 shots after facing 41 on Wednesday.
And on the other end, the Wings took advantage of their chances, the ones they created and the ones the Blackhawks gave to them.
“I don’t know if it was so much about (adversity). We just wanted to play better than in Game 1,” said Zetterberg, who had two assists for the Wings. “They were a lot better than us then. We wanted to prove to ourselves that we could play a better game, and we did.”
The Wings got their wakeup call after Game 1 and returned with a definitive response. The Blackhawks just got their jolt today. How they respond is indicative to how this series goes.
“I wouldn’t say it’s a wakeup call. We know what we need to improve on, and we need to do it right away,” Toews said. “There’s no time to waste in this series. We know going into their building, it’s going to be more difficult than it was today.”