DETROIT — The Blackhawks got right down to business Friday night.
Actually it all started in the morning skate, when coach Joel Quenneville looked into the eyes of his players and saw exactly what he wanted to see.
“Guys had good energy in the morning skate, in the warmup and in the locker room,” Quenneville said after the Hawks’ must-have 4-2 win over the Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena.
“It was an important game, and you could sense there was a different type of approach going into the game. It just seemed the urgency was in the guys’ faces, and the first shift exemplified that and we took off from there.”
Unfortunately for the Hawks, Dallas beat Colorado 3-2 on Friday, so they must go to the final game of the season Sunday, a rematch with the Red Wings at the United Center, to clinch a playoff spot.
The Hawks need at least 1 point or the Stars to lose at Minnesota on Sunday to punch their ticket back to the playoffs.
What a first shift it was by the line of Jonathan Toews, Patrick Sharp and Marian Hossa.
In a game the Hawks couldn’t afford to lose, it took only 27 seconds to get the jump on the Red Wings, with Brent Seabrook scoring on a feed from Sharp.
By the time the first period was over, the Hawks had buzzed the Red Wings for a 3-0 lead, and they kept their foot on the gas for the most part the rest of the way.
The dominant opening shift by Toews, Sharp and Hossa set the tone for the night, and their energy was contagious.
“That was a huge shift for us, especially coming off Wednesday when St. Louis scored 17 seconds into the game,” said rookie winger Ben Smith, who gave the Hawks a 2-0 lead at 6:07 with his first NHL goal.
“We talked about it before the game, that we wanted to get after it and no holding back,” Sharp said. “It was a great first shift. I thought the three of them forechecked well; we got the puck back a few times and created a goal.”
Toews won two battles in the Detroit zone before Sharp found Seabrook flying to the net down the right side for the snap shot past goalie Jimmy Howard.
“It’s always been up to us,” Toews said. “It’s always been about how we prepare and how we play and how bad we want it.
“You could tell in the locker room we were ready and all set to play for each other and get a job done.”
Patrick Kane set up Smith’s goal by poking the puck away from Valtteri Filppula to Smith all alone in the slot. The rookie roofed it.
The line of Michael Frolik, Kane and Smith had a strong game. Frolik and Kane also set up Brian Campbell’s goal at 8:45 of the first period that made it 3-0 and had Detroit coach Mike Babcock scrambling for a timeout.
“That line has been pretty special the couple games they’ve been together as far as seeing plays, play recognition and defensively,” Quenneville said. “They were dangerous all night long.
“It’s three guys that all have real good senses offensively and defensively. In a short amount of time it already looks like there’s a little chemistry there.”
The Red Wings played without leading scorer Henrik Zetterberg and defenseman Niklas Kronwall, and the Hawks took advantage of the opportunity in what could be a preview of the first round.Copyright © 2013 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.