Smith, Red Wings get some redemption
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The Red Wings' Brendan Smith controls the puck past the Blackhawks' Patrick Kane during the third period of Saturday's Game 2 at the United Center.
After their Game 1 drubbing at the hands of the Blackhawks, the Red Wings in general — and defenseman Brendan Smith in particular — heard it aplenty from Detroit fans concerning their poor performances in a 4-1 loss.
The 24-year-old Smith told reporters after the game that he thought the criticism was a little harsh but did admit he needed to start making better plays beginning with the second game of the series Saturday at the United Center.
So it sure seemed like a case of "uh-oh, here we go again" late in the first period when Smith was not only outmuscled but also out-hustled to a loose puck by Patrick Sharp on a play that ended up with Patrick Kane scoring his first goal of the playoffs and the Hawks taking a 1-0 lead.
"I lost the battle with Sharp," Smith admitted. "He made a great play. That's why he's done so well in the playoffs. I maybe underestimated his strength and his speed.
"It's something I need to do better, and actually at the end of the game I did better with it."
But before that, Smith in particular and the Red Wings in general got their redemption. For Smith it came when he took a perfect pass from Henrik Zetterberg and drilled one past Corey Crawford for what turned out to be the game-winner at 16:08 of the second period.
"He's so fantastic with the puck," Smith said of the Wings' Big Z. "I was just in the right place at the right time."
And it capped off yet another action-packed game for the young defenseman.
"He creates a lot of stuff — sometimes for both teams," Zetterberg said. "It's nice to see that he can put it away when he gets a chance.
"He's young and he's learning every game. It's nice to see he had a bounce-back game from the first one."
Wings coach Mike Babcock saw Smith's performance Saturday, which also featured a pair of blocked shots, as a little more than just a bounce-back game.
"I thought Smith was outstanding," Babcoack said.
As were the Wings as a whole as they got their redemption by coming out a completely different-looking team in Game 2, taking it right to the Hawks from the get-go and never easing up en route to a series-tying 4-1 victory.
"If you're our group and you know how we play, when you leave the rink after the last game it's not the end of the world, but the way you played is hard to take," Babcock said. "So it was great to have an off-day (between games), It's unbelievable how well that worked for us.
"Now we're freshened up and the series is on."
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