The Detroit Red Wings squandered an opportunity to eliminate the Chicago Blackhawks from the 2013 NHL playoffs in five games.
A 4-1 loss in Game 5 at the United Center sets the stage for a sixth game in Detroit Monday, where the Wings will try once again to pull off the biggest upset of the postseason.
After winning five of its past six games, Detroit came up well short Sunday, despite another strong performance from Jimmy Howard.
Howard stopped 41 of 45 shots, while his teammates managed 26 shots on Corey Crawford, but just four in the final frame.
The Blackhawks were aggressive out of the gate, hitting harder and more often than they had in the previous three games. They also got bodies to the front of the net and created more scoring chances in the process.
However, the most important factor was special teams. The Red Wings failed to score with the man advantage, while the Blackhawks recorded two goals on three attempts.
Chicago scored both power-play goals in the second period, shortly after Dan Cleary had tied the game at one. Andrew Shaw deflected home his third career playoff goal, and Jonathan Toews finally ended his scoring drought, notching his first goal of the 2013 playoffs.
The Red Wings were unable to clear the puck or tie up players in front of the net, which directly led to the Chicago goals.
With that said, should the residents of Hockeytown be feeling a little nervous?
Perhaps, but the Red Wings still have a great opportunity as they head back to Joe Louis Arena for Game 6.
After all, less than 8 percent of teams down 3-1 have come back to win the series. Although, for what it’s worth, teams who earn a shutout win in Game 4 to go up 3-1 in a series have never lost Game 5.
The Red Wings need to return to the form that allowed them to beat the Blackhawks in three straight games. That includes not taking any stupid penalties, such as the unsportsmanlike call Justin Abdelkader took in the second period.
A more consistent, physical defensive game will be needed. You can bet Howard will be at his best once again, but Detroit’s defensemen still need to do a better job of preventing the Blackhawks from driving to the net.
On the offensive end, Detroit needs to do better on the forecheck and take advantage of its power-play opportunities.
Game 6 isn’t a must-win game. But it would be an awfully tough task to walk into the Madhouse for Game 7 after dropping two straight and come away victorious.
Stats courtesy of NHL.com.