By Helene St James/Detroit Free Press
Chasing the champions again cost the Detroit Red Wings.
They were unable to overcome a poor start from Petr Mrazek on Sunday afternoon at United Center, losing to the Chicago Blackhawks, 4-1.
Mrazek was replaced by Jimmy Howard after allowing two goals less than 7 minutes into the game. Howard had a good performance going until he got beat on tip-ins a minute apart in the third period. The Wings had a bad day on special teams, unable to convert on three power plays while giving up two goals during Chicago man advantages.
Minutes before the game began, the Wings announced Pavel Datsyuk, their fourth-leading scorer and resident puck magician, was out with an undisclosed illness.
Minutes after the game began, the Wings were behind, 2-0, and flipping goaltenders. Patrick Kane sniped the puck past Mrazek shot side 21 seconds in, and Duncan Keith piled on during a power play with a blast from the blue line that made it 2-0 on five shots. That was enough to get Mrazek the hook and Howard the nod.
Gustav Nyquist used a nice little wrist shot to do some damage control, pulling the Wings within a goal before the first period’s midpoint.
Howard finished the first period with six saves and began the second with a stop on Andrew Shaw. Tomas Tatar got a shot on Crawford when the Wings got a man advantage as the Wings outshot the Blackhawks, 6-1, to start the period. A second power play saw the Wings promptly give up a scoring chance against before getting set up in Chicago’s zone. Henrik Zetterberg sent a slap shot at Crawford, who faced 13 shots total in the second period, to three for Howard.
The Wings had almost an entire power play to start the third period, but again gave up a scoring chance right away after losing the opening faceoff. Dylan Larkin got a backhand shot on net just before the third man advantage expired. Howard kept the Blackhawks at bay with another save on Shaw.
It was still a one-goal game when Mike Green went off for a blatant hooking penalty midway through the third period. Artem Anisimov scored on a deflection at 11:15, and Jonathan Toews was in front of Howard when Andrew Desjardins took a shot that hit Toews en route into Detroit’s net. The Wings lost, 5-2, to Chicago Wednesday in Detroit, after trailing in that game, 3-0.
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