CHICAGO – Marian Hossa’s short-handed goal got the short-handed Detroit Red Wings started Sunday.
And once they got rolling, the defending champions overpowered the frustrated Chicago Blackhawks and moved within one win of a return trip to the Stanley Cup final.
With injured stars Nicklas Lidstrom and Pavel Datsyuk sidelined, Hossa and Henrik Zetterberg had two goals each, sending the Red Wings to a convincing 6-1 victory and a 3-1 lead in the Western Conference final.
“We heard this morning during the pre-game meal he (Lidstrom) was not playing. We just had to deal with it,” Zetterberg said. “Everybody had to step up and play.”
Game 5 is Wednesday night back in Detroit, where the Red Wings opened this series with a pair of wins.
Detroit took advantage of backup goalie Cristobal Huet, who made his first start of these playoffs in place of injured Nikolai Khabibulin. He gave up four goals and was pulled in the second. Rookie Corey Crawford took over for the last 15:55 of the period, but Huet returned in the third and allowed Zetterberg’s second power-play goal that made it 6-1.
Hossa’s short-handed goal on a 2-on-1 break gave the Red Wings the early lead and they added three power-play goals as Chicago wore out the door to the penalty box.
“We tried to keep our poise. We knew they were coming,” Zetterberg said of the Blackhawks, who had been upset after Detroit’s Niklas Kronwall flattened forward Martin Havlat with a hard hit on Friday and drove him out of the game. “They didn’t basically have anything else to do once the game kind of ran away,” Zetterberg added.
Chicago coach Joel Quenneville was fuming over a call against Blackhawks defenceman Matt Walker for roughing during a scrum as the first period ended.
Leading 2-0, the Red Wings went on a power play to start the second, and Valtteri Filppula scored just 1:13 in for a three-goal Detroit lead.
“I think we witnessed probably the worst call in the history of sports there,” Quenneville said.
“You know, they scored, it’s 3-0. They ruined a good hockey game and absolutely destroyed what was going on the ice,” he said. “It was a call that could. … never seen anything like it.”
Six-time Norris Trophy winner Lidstrom was scratched due to a lower body injury. Coach Mike Babcock said he heard about the injury – he said it was not serious – in a cab as he was coming to the game. Datsyuk missed his second straight game because of a sore foot.
“I thought we were going to dig in today,” Babcock said, adding he hoped Lidstrom and Datsyuk would be back for Game 5 on Wednesday.
Johan Franzen also scored for the Red Wings, a momentum swinging goal from far out on the right side with 20.7 seconds left in the first as he was being defended by Brian Campbell. The shot eluded Huet and made it 2-0.
Jonathan Toews had Chicago’s lone goal on a second-period power play.
Chris Osgood made 18 saves in two periods before he became dehydrated and had to be replaced by Ty Conklin in the third.
Hossa scored a short-handed goal on a 2-on-1 break on a nice give-and-go pass from Filppula in the first, quickly quieting the crowd at the United Center.
In the second, after Toews scored to cut it to 3-1, Hossa skated in 12 seconds later and beat Huet for his second goal, prompting the switch to Crawford.
Zetterberg made it 5-1 when he scored on the power play against Crawford when the Red Wings had a two-man advantage in the second.
Hossa put the Red Wings up early after four Blackhawks, including Campbell, got caught deep in the Detroit zone. Hossa started a 2-on-1, short-handed break and made a nice crossing pass to Filppula, whose perfectly timed return pass to Hossa allowed him to beat Huet.
Huet’s first appearance of the playoffs came Friday night in Game 3 when he replaced an injured Khabibulin (lower body) to start the third period of Chicago’s 4-3 overtime win.
Notes: Havlat, whose status was unclear Saturday when he didn’t practice, got a rousing ovation when introduced. He played only seven minutes and 59 seconds.