It’s not supposed to be this easy.
Don’t let the final tally fool you; this game wasn’t even as close as the final score might indicate.
Even in the absence of unquestioned leaders Niklas Lidstrom and Pavel Datsyuk, the Wings didn’t miss a beat. They went up 1-0 on, of all things, a shorthanded goal just 7:41 into the contest.
Detroit’s defense forced a turnover in the neutral zone and Valtteri Filppula and Marian Hossa charged in on a 2-on-1 break, leaving Cristobal Huet little chance as Hossa scored easily.
With the injured Nikolai Khabibulin on the shelf, Huet simply wasn’t the answer.
Perhaps the key moment came when the ‘Hawks finally showed a little life with Jonathan Toews strafing Chris Osgood with a power play goal at the 3:53 mark of the second period to cut their deficit down to 3-1.
The Chicago fans were boisterous, and it appeared as if there might be hope for the home team if only they could get some breaks and a little momentum.
Detroit erased all doubt with another splendid goal from Hossa—12 seconds later.
The plight of the 'Hawks between the pipes tells the story.
The shell-shocked Huet was pulled after that fourth goal. Reserve net-minder Corey Crawford finished up the second period by allowing a goal in seven shots.
Chicago went back to Huet in the third, and he allowed one more score.
Meanwhile, Ozzie performed well, stopping 17-of-18 chances. Third-stringer Ty Conklin mopped up with a perfect third.
Niklas Kronwall stepped into the breech caused by the loss of Lidstrom, playing 23:16 and keying the defensive charge by the Wings. He was interviewed after the game and pointed to what he thought was the key to the Detroit success without their leaders.
“I thought we did a great job of sticking with our game plan,” he began.
“We just tried to approach the game as we always do. I think it (injuries to Datsyuk and Lidstrom) just made everyone come together even more. A lot of it has to do with the willingness to compete for each other. Everyone did their part. We were able to come out with the win.”
The seasoned Red Wings kept their composure all day long, never letting the physical play of the young Blackhawks phase them. Detroit put on a clinic in making the extra pass to set up some ridiculously easy scoring chances.
“Players had to step up,” star forward Henrik Zetterberg said afterward.
“I think a big key is just to go out and make plays. They were coming with a lot of speed. If you execute that first pass, it’s a lot easier. We did that today. We just have to stick it and play the same way in Game Five.”
Now, the 'Hawks return to Hockeytown with their backs against the wall as Detroit tries to close out the series Wednesday night at Joe Louis Arena.
With probably Lidstrom and perhaps Datsyuk back for the contest, it would seem that the sands of time are fast running out for Chicago’s playoff lives.
All quotes courtesy of NHL.com