The Chicago Blackhawks beat the Detroit Red Wings 4-1 in the opener of their best-of-seven Western Conference semifinal series
CHICAGO — The top-seeded Chicago Blackhawks found an extra gear they talked about for days.
Johnny Oduya and Marcus Kruger scored in the third period, Corey Crawford made 20 saves and the Blackhawks beat the Detroit Red Wings 4-1 in the opener of their best-of-seven Western Conference semifinal series Wednesday night.
“Much better from our prior series,” Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said. “I thought what we’re talking about in our team game was in place. Had some pace, had some speed, zone time, and I thought everybody contributed.”
In the wake of Chicago’s five-game victory over Minnesota in the first round, Quenneville talked about a higher level of intensity — and his biggest stars echoed those comments. The response was a dominant final two periods in the Blackhawks’ first game in the West semifinals since they won the Stanley Cup in 2010.
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Marian Hossa had the opening goal in the first period, and Patrick Sharp finished with an empty-netter and two assists to give him nine points in the postseason.
“I thought it was our best game of the playoffs, no question,” Sharp said.
Jimmy Howard had 38 saves, but seventh-seeded Detroit lost to rival Chicago for the eighth straight time dating to last season.
“I think in the first it was pretty even, but then I think in the second and third they looked like they had a little more energy than we did,” Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg said. “It’s going to be nice to have a day off tomorrow and practice and then looking forward to Game 2.”
The series resumes Saturday in Chicago.
Detroit was 0 for 3 on the power play; the Blackhawks are 20 for 20 on the penalty kill in the playoffs.