The Chicago Blackhawks pulled away from the Detroit Red Wings in the third period on Wednesday for a 4-1 win in the series opener. Right-winger Patrick Sharp led the way with a goal and two assists as the Blackhawks have now won five-of-six games to start the playoffs.
Chicago’s early lead off a powerplay goal by Marian Hossa lasted a little more than a minute midway through the first period as Damien Brunner tied the game at one for the Red Wings. Brunner stuffed home a rebound past Corey Crawford after Hossa’s opening goal.
The Blackhawks had multiple chances to finish out the period with another goal,but goaltender Jimmy Howard made one crucial save after another to keep the Red Wings alive. It was more of the same in the second period, as both teams failed to find the net and the score remained tied at one going into the third.
Chicago picked up the pressure even more to start the third as Dave Bolland had a breakaway early in the frame, but Howard made the stop once again. It was only a matter time before the Blackhawks regained the lead as the Red Wings never had a response.
Just over eight minutes into the final period, defenseman Johnny Oduya finally broke through after a great pass from Patrick Sharp. Oduya made a run into the middle of the offensive zone while Sharp moved the puck up the side boards.
Sharp then hit Oduya with a perfect pass, and the 31-year-old sent a wrist shot over Howard’s glove-side to give the Blackhawks a 2-1 lead. Minutes later they added to their lead when Marcus Kruger sent in a backhand after the puck was knocked around behind the net.
Patrick Sharp’s empty net goal in the final minute sealed the Game 1 victory for the Blackhawks. Corey Crawford stopped 20-of-21 shots on the night for his fifth win of the playoffs.
Here’s video of the Blackhawks crucial win in the series opener against the Red Wings:
Game 2 is Saturday at the United Center before the series moves to “Hockeytown” in Detroit for Game 3.
Do you think the Chicago Blackhawks will run away with the series and easily advance to the conference finals?
[Image via Mafue]