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updated: 4/12/2013 11:57 PM

Beat the Red Wings, get Central title — yes!

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  • Goalie Corey Crawford celebrates with Brent Seabrook and Jonathan Toews after the Blackhawks rallied to beat the Red Wings in a shootout Friday night at the United Center.

      Goalie Corey Crawford celebrates with Brent Seabrook and Jonathan Toews after the Blackhawks rallied to beat the Red Wings in a shootout Friday night at the United Center.
    Associated Press

  • The Blackhawks' Brandon Saad celebrates after scoring the winning goal against the Detroit Red Wings during a shootout.

      The Blackhawks' Brandon Saad celebrates after scoring the winning goal against the Detroit Red Wings during a shootout.
    Associated Press

 
 

It's probably only fitting that the Blackhawks beat Detroit to win what might be the final Central Division title.

The Red Wings have pretty much owned the division since 1994, winning 13 of the last 18 championships.

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Brandon Saad's goal in the fifth round of the shootout gave the Hawks a 3-2 win and their second Central title and first since 2010, when they went on to capture the Stanley Cup.

That's the goal again this year for the Hawks, now 31-5-4 for the season.

"It's a nice achievement, but I think we still want to finish first in the other categories until the end of the year," Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "I think that's our motivation so let's keep pushing forward and look for some more consistency in our game."

Corey Crawford made 27 saves then 4 more in the shootout. He was beaten in the shootout only by Henrik Zetterberg's slick move in the second round.

"It means a lot (to win the division)," Crawford said. "We wanted to capture first place, but it's been game by game the whole year and we're not going to change it now."

The Hawks trailed 2-1 late into regulation when Jonathan Toews scored on a rebound with 2:57 to play.

"I was looking for one of those all night," Toews said. "A lot of guys had some great chances and some great second efforts in tight and I finally found a way to get loose and get the puck in the net there.

"We had some great pressure in that third period and we felt if we could keep that pressure up we'd find a way to tie the game."

The Hawks swept the four-game regular season series from the Red Wings for the first time since 1976-77, although three of the victories were by 1 goal.

"The bottom line is I think over the last couple of years, every game (with the Hawks) has been a 1-goal game except for the blowout they had in our building," Detroit coach Mike Babcock said. "They're finding a way to score more goals more nights. They're a deeper team than we are no question about it.

"I didn't like the last goal they scored. I thought on the back end we weren't very good on that goal. We would have liked to get the second point, but we didn't, so let's get on the flight to Nashville and get ready for the next game."

The Hawks were down to their last shot in the shootout when Marian Hossa ripped a slap shot past Jimmy Howard. After Michal Rozsival was stopped by hitting the post, Saad ended it with his first shootout goal after three misses.

Meanwhile, Crawford was stopping Damien Brunner, Gustav Nyquist and Johan Franzen.

"I've had a couple cracks at it and tonight it finally went in," Saad said. "We didn't know the order and Q was calling it out one by one. I was thinking about earlier moves, what guys did, and just tried to capitalize on mine."

Howard, who is about to sign a six-year, $31.8 million contract extension, made 26 saves as the Red Wings gained a key point in their attempt to hold on to eighth place in the West.

The Hawks drew first blood when Viktor Stalberg beat Howard on a wraparound at 6:11 of the second period, but by the time the intermission rolled around the Red Wings were ahead 2-1 on goals by Franzen and Cory Emmerton after a turnover along the boards by Andrew Shaw.

• Follow Tim's hockey reports on Twitter @TimSassone and check out his Between the Circles blog at dailyherald.com.

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