The Blackhawks came out with a game plan to be more offensively aggressive, create more chances and be smarter with the puck after Game 2’s 4-1 disaster. When the final horn sounded at Joe Louis Arena on Monday, the Blackhawks felt they had accomplished nearly all they had sought out to do.
What was missing, of course, was a winning result.
“I think we did exactly what we wanted to do,” Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews said. “We were scratching, clawing. We were tough to play against tonight. Like I said, when it came down to it, [we] just didn't score enough goals to win the game. We'll come back even harder the next one.”
Toews and his teammates certainly created plenty of chances. Toews took a game-high seven shots on goal, and five other Blackhawks had three or more shots on goal. Toews has zero goals in eight playoff games this season.
"If he keeps playing like that, it'll find a way to get in,” Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said of Toews.
All together, the Blackhawks had 40 shots on goal, 20 more than they had in Game 2.
The Blackhawks were clicking offensively -- at least from a puck possession standpoint -- early in the second period. Beginning with a Red Wings penalty at 0:54 of the second period, the Blackhawks kept the puck in their offensive zone for about three minutes. The Red Wings blocked five shots and Jimmy Howard made two saves during that span, and the Blackhawks came away without a goal.
“That could have been a turning point if they would have scored on that power play and extended end-zone shift,” Red Wings forward Patrick Eaves said. “But with [Howard] back there and if we could keep them to the outside and knock any rebounds away, he’s going to do a good job for us.”
Less than five minutes later, the Red Wings scored to take a 1-0 lead. Thirty-one seconds later, they scored again and went up 2-0.
Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith was optimistic that their luck would change if they continue to put that sort of pressure on the Red Wings.
“We just got to stick with it,” Keith said. “At the end of the day, we competed hard tonight. We just got to take that same mentality into the next game. I think we’re going to get some bounces our way.”
Howard, who made 30-plus saves in six playoff games this season, understood it’s not going to get any easier on him.
“That was probably the fastest playoff game I've ever been a part of,” Howard said. “I expect it just to get faster Thursday night. They're going to step it up. We need to come even harder. We're going to have to continue to play a great team game."