Frustration builds for Blackhawks
Team in deep hole after suffering first three-game losing streak
DETROIT — The Red Wings have managed to frustrate Jonathan Toews and the Blackhawks like no other team has done all season.
Goalie Jimmy Howard and the Red Wings pushed the Hawks to the brink of elimination here Thursday night with a 2-0 win in Game 4 of the Western Conference semifinals.
Tim Sassone's 3 stars
1. Jimmy Howard, Red Wings The Detroit goalie continued his strong play with 28 saves for his second career playoff shutout.
2. Jakub Kindl, Red Wings Young Detroit defenseman scored on the power play at 10:03 of the second period, and it turned out to be the winning goal.
3. Corey Crawford, Hawks Goalie was beaten only by Kindl's shot among the 27 he faced.
Howard made 28 saves while Corey Crawford made 26, failing to stop only Jakub Kindl's shot on a power play in the second period. Dan Cleary added an empty-net goal with Crawford pulled for a sixth attacker.
It was the first power-play goal allowed by the Hawks in the playoffs.
The goal came with Toews serving 1 of the 3 penalties he took in the second period alone. He disputed the high stick call against Justin Abdelkader that the Red Wings scored on.
Abdelkader did a great job of selling it to the officials.
"Obviously, I'm disappointed by a few of the calls, but it was in the heat of the moment," Toews said. "It doesn't help our team. I still think we played hard and found a way to stay in the game. We played our tails off and did a lot of good things. We just couldn't find the back of the net."
Someone asked Toews if he felt he became unglued.
"I wouldn't take it that far," Toews said. "Emotions run high in these games and my stick got a little loose there. I was playing hard and sometimes that happens.
"You can point the finger at whatever you want. We're getting shots; we're getting chances. We hit a bunch of posts again tonight. They're just not going in."
So are the Red Wings frustrating Toews, who has yet to score a goal in the playoffs?
"You'll have to ask Joel (Quenneville)," said Red Wings coach Mike Babcock. "We're too busy worrying about our own focus."
Quenneville wouldn't blame Toews for losing his cool.
"I thought Tazer, he worked," Quenneville said. "A couple penalties there, the first two, you could argue about. We couldn't get him to the bench; he had six minutes in a row there.
"You lose a little momentum there, but he's a battler. Johnny had some chances, he had some looks."
The power play again was miserable, going 0-for-3.
"We can get better on it," Patrick Sharp said. "We need to get more pucks to the net, play with more intensity. We've got to find a way to come up with something, whether it's scoring chances or goals. We just have to be better."
The Red Wings made an adjustment on their power play, and it paid off in their first goal of the series.
"We adjusted our power play yesterday and got Mule (Johan Franzen) off the net and told him to shoot it," Babcock said.
Kindl scored on a long shot from the left side past Crawford through an Abdelkader screen.
It's the first three-game losing streak of the season for the Hawks, who will need now to win three in a row starting with Game 5 on Saturday at the United Center if they hope to win the series.
"We're all frustrated," Sharp said. "It's not one guy (Toews). We're a team in here, and Johnny's the first one to say it. We're all frustrated; we're not happy with the situation we're in, but no one is going to feel sorry for us. It's up to us to dig in and find a way to get out of it."
It's reminiscent of the Vancouver series two springs ago when the Hawks fell behind the Canucks 3-0 before winning three in a row and forcing a seventh game, which they lost in overtime.
"We're not making any excuses," Toews said. "We know we're playing good hockey. We're leaving everything out there. We just need to find a way to score; it's as simple as that.
"We've been down 3-0 before and found a way to get to overtime of Game 7 a couple years ago, and we're in a very similar situation now."
As expected, Quenneville shook up his lines for Game 4. The biggest change involved Toews getting new wingers in Patrick Kane and Bryan Bickell.
Marian Hossa and Sharp dropped to the second line to skate with Michal Handzus, while the third line consisted of Dave Bolland between Andrew Shaw and Viktor Stalberg.
Brandon Saad was dropped all the way down to the fourth line with Marcus Kruger and Michael Frolik.
•Follow Tim's hockey reports on Twitter @TimSassone and check out his Between the Circles blog at dailyherald.com.
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