Published: May 25, 2013
CHICAGO (AP) — All that tinkering with the power play, all the practice time and the tweaked combinations finally paid off for the Chicago Blackhawks when they needed it the most.
Jonathan Toews and Andrew Shaw scored with the man advantage in the second period, and the Blackhawks avoided elimination with a 4-1 victory over the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday night in Game 5 of the second-round playoff series.
Shaw added his third career playoff goal in the third as the Blackhawks stopped the Red Wings' three-game winning streak by creating chaos in front of Jimmy Howard, who had shut down Chicago's attack while moving Detroit to the brink of the Western Conference finals.
With the sellout crowd chanting "Ho-ward! Ho-ward!" in an attempt to shake him, the standout goalie made 41 saves in another solid performance. But the Blackhawks created enough quality chances that he simply couldn't stop all of them.
"Good things come from shooting the puck," Shaw said. "There's rebounds, there's loose pucks, and we had all guys converging to the net and we just kept picking them up and hemming them in there and tired them out and we were rewarded."
Bryan Bickell scored the first goal of the game and Corey Crawford had 25 stops for Chicago, which managed only two goals during its first three-game losing streak of the season.
Daniel Cleary scored for the second straight game for Detroit, which will have another chance to close out the top-seeded Blackhawks in Game 6 on Monday night. That will be at home, too, where the Red Wings are 4-1 in this postseason.
Detroit trailed 1-0 before Cleary completed a strong rush during a 4-on-4 stretch in the second period, beating Crawford from a tough angle on the left side for his fourth goal of the postseason. Henrik Zetterberg set up the score by throwing the puck across the crease while Brendan Smith was streaking toward the net.
Back came the Blackhawks, who responded with two of their best power plays in weeks. Upset with how Chicago had been playing with the man advantage, coach Joel Quenneville tried all sorts of combinations in practice to no avail.
He finally got what he wanted in Game 5.
First, Shaw had a perfect tip on Duncan Keith's slap shot to make it 2-1 at 13:08. Then Justin Abdelkader received his second penalty, this one for cross checking, and Toews wristed a shot off Howard's facemask and into the upper right corner.
It was Toews' first playoff goal since April 21, 2012, at Phoenix, snapping a scoreless postseason drought of 10 games. It also came after he appeared frustrated while committing three penalties in the second period of Game 4.
The captain was mobbed by his teammates after he skated to the boards, and the crowd of 22,014 roared its approval.
Chicago got off to a good start with a 4-1 victory in Game 1 of the series, but it had been all Detroit since that opening win. The Red Wings turned up the pressure on defense and Howard had an amazing 86 stops on 88 shots over three straight wins that pushed the Blackhawks to the edge of an early postseason exit.
Back at home after managing just one goal in a pair of losses in Detroit, the Blackhawks came out with a spirited opening period. Brent Seabrook, who played only 12 minutes in Game 4, and Bickell each delivered a huge hit in the opening minutes, delighting the nervous United Center crowd looking for anything to cheer.
Bickell then plowed ahead to set up Chicago's first goal since the third period of Game 3. Howard turned away Bickell's first charge, but he skated around to the other side of the net and was right there to slam home on the rebound when Patrick Kane was denied.
Bickell pumped both his arms after he gave the Blackhawks their first lead in a week. It was the fourth goal of the season for physical forward, but his first since Game 4 of the first-round series against Minnesota.
The Red Wings then rushed down the ice, and Crawford turned away quality opportunities for Joakim Andersson and Gustav Nyquist. Crawford made 11 saves in the opening period.
NOTES: Chicago Blackhawks Charities donated their portion of the Split the Pot money from Game 5 to the OK Strong Disaster Relief Fund to benefit the victims of the recent deadly tornadoes in Oklahoma.
Jay Cohen can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/jcohenap [Copyright 2013 The Associated Press]