Hawks struggle at start and finish

DETROIT -- Playing against the Detroit Red Wings is usually a game of momentum swings, but the Chicago Blackhawks and their arch-rivals took things to a different level Saturday afternoon as the Hawks fell, 3-2, in overtime.

The Hawks played awful in the first, decent in the second, great in the third but returned to awful in overtime. The reverse was true for the Wings.

“We didn’t start the game the way we wanted to, ever, on the road or at home,” Steve Montador said afterwards.

And when you start a game so poorly against a team that is 16-2-1 at home, including winning its last 13 here, you probably don’t deserve to win no matter how well the third period goes.

“I wouldn’t say we had a terrible first period,” Jonathan Toews said. “We didn’t control the game as much as we wanted to. They kind of did.

The normally brutally honest, Toews, was being nice. The Hawks were outshot 21 to 4 and trailed 2-0 after the first 20 minutes. There’s no sugarcoating those numbers. The 21 shots given up tied a season high for one period set just recently against Philadelphia. The score would have been worse if not for an outstanding first period by Corey Crawford.

“Terrible start to the game,” coach Joel Quenneville said more bluntly than Toews. “Too much standing around. Watching them or watching us. Nobody had any movement prior to getting the puck.”

The next question, of course, was why? Why would the Hawks, who have won and lost two tight games to the Wings in the last couple weeks, come out so flat?

“They had a couple slow starts and they were ready and we weren’t.,” Quenneville stated. “The switch was a 12:30 pm (EST) game, might have been something to do with it. I don’t know. There’s no excuses but it was disappointing.”

At least the Hawks didn’t wilt. They were given a gift goal when Jimmy Howard misplayed a puck behind his net late in the second period and Andrew Shaw cashed in. Then came the dominant start to the third period.

“Maybe the best stretch we’ve had all year,” Quenneville said.

The Hawks threw everything at Howard, doubling their shot total through 40 minutes in just the first 6:30 of the third.

“We knew that game wasn’t over until the end,” Toews said. “We stuck with it.”

Despite a momentum-killing four-minute power play during that span, the Hawks finally got the tying tally when Toews tipped in a Marian Hossa shot from the point with 52 seconds to go. They outshot Detroit 16 to 5 and outscored them 1-0 in the final 20 minutes of regulation. That got them a point, but that’s all.

“When you work your way back into a game like that you feel that extra point is yours,” Toews said. “It is a little disappointing.”

It’s disappointing because as soon as the Hawks tied it, the air came out of the balloon. Overtime was all Detroit as they out chanced the Hawks and outshot them 9 to 0, before Todd Bertuzzi ended the game. Another momentum swing.

“They had their turn, we had ours,” Quenneville said. “We’ll definitely take a point and move along.”

There’s no other choice, not after that brutal open to the game.