Hawks' defense completely clips Wings; Huet notches another shutout
Not since the first weeks of the season have the Red Wings seen the Blackhawks, but now they know what all the fuss is about.
The injury-riddled Red Wings were no match for the Hawks, whose 3-0 win Sunday night at the United Center was their fourth straight and made them 15-3-1 since Nov. 9.
Detroit was outshot 35-20 and found out firsthand why the Hawks are the best defensive team in the NHL.
"Chicago had the puck most of the night and dominated the faceoffs (64 percent)," Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. "They competed very hard; you have to give them credit. They've gotten stronger, they're very deep, and their penalty-killing the last few games has been outstanding."
Goals by Duncan Keith, Brian Campbell and Dustin Byfuglien provided more than enough offensive support for goalie Cristobal Huet, who posted his second straight shutout and third of the season.
"As a team we're playing a good overall game," Huet said. "We respect Detroit very much even though they're missing a lot of key guys. They've been finding ways to win, so we knew it was going to be a tight game. We were very disciplined tonight, and it paid off."
At 23-8-3 for 49 points, the Hawks are first in the Western Conference and moved 2 points back ahead of Nashville in the Central Division. They are 8 points ahead of Detroit.
"We want to still improve," Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "The satisfaction level here as a group, there doesn't seem like there's any of that around here.
"We're looking for continued improvement in all areas of our game, and there's room to grow as a team and individually as well since we have a lot of young players.
"As the second half comes up upon us we should feel like we want to be the best in our division."
Keith's sixth goal of the season came on a power play at 7:58 of the first period on a wicked 55-foot slap shot past goalie Chris Osgood. That's the way it stayed until late in the second period when Campbell scored at 16:05 and Byfuglien at 19:27.
The Red Wings, who were without injured stars Henrik Zetterberg, Johan Franzen, Dan Cleary and Niklas Kronwall, plus four other regulars, had only 5 shots in each of the first two periods.
"They were a step quicker all night because they have a lot of speed," Detroit defenseman Brad Stuart said.
"I really liked the way we played," Quenneville said. "All areas and all aspects of our game were on tonight. It's a fun building and the crowd was great. From the start of the game there was a lot of intensity in the building and scoring on that power play certainly helped us as we progressed."
Huet improved his personal record to 16-7-2 and lowered his goals-against average to 2.00.
"He was very solid," Quenneville said. "It looked like he was challenging and took away a lot of their options and space. His rebound control was there as well. It looked like he was in charge."
Huet didn't see a shot for the first 13 minutes of the game.
"That's always a good sign," Huet said. "It means the team is playing a good puck-possession game."
Tim Sassone's game tracker
1. Cristobal Huet, Hawks: Turned aside 20 shots for his second straight shutout.
2. Duncan Keith, Hawks: Scored a power-play goal, had an assist and blocked 3 shots.
3. Brian Campbell, Hawks: Got his second goal in three games and is playing his best hockey of the season.
Key stat: A combined 4 shots on goal for Detroit's Pavel Datsyuk, Tomas Holmstrom and Todd Bertuzzi.
The quote: "We know Detroit, when they get everybody back, is going to be as good as anyone in the game." - Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said