Trailing 2-1 going into the third period, with their playoff lives on the line, the Chicago Blackhawks scored three goals to pull ahead and they held on for a 4-3 win in Game Six at Detroit Monday, setting up a Game seven matchup with the Red Wings Wednesday night.
While the talk heading into Game Six was how the top lines were neutralizing each other, the results were different Monday. Chicago's attack was led by Marian Hossa (1 G, 1 A, +2) and Jonathan Toews (2 A), while Bryan Bickell (not necessarily a top player, but skating on the wing with Hossa for much of the night) scored the third goal and was plus-2.
It's not that Toews spent the night with Hossa and Bickell; his primary linemates were Patrick Kane and Patrick Sharp, but the Blackhawks frequently had Toews, Hossa and Bickell out to face Pavel Datsyuk's line, while Toews would play with Patrick Kane and Patrick Sharp against Henrik Zetterberg, Valtteri Filppula and Dan Cleary.
While the goals went Chicago's way in those matchups, Detroit, led by Pavel Datsyuk and Johan Franzen with six shots each, outshot Chicago 38-28. Datsyuk, Franzen and Justin Abdelkader had a dominant game in terms of puck possession, carrying the play, primarily against the defence tandem of Johnny Oduya and Niklas Hjalmarsson.
Chicago leans heavily on all of their top four defencemen, but Oduya led all Blackhawks with 24:37 of ice time in Game Six.
Detroit's marksmen in Game Six were unlikely sources, as none played more than 12 minutes in the game. Patrick Eaves and Joakim Andersson scored their first goals of the postseason, while Damien Brunner scored in the final minute of the third period. Brunner's goal moves him into the scoring lead for Detroit in this series, with four points in six games. Chicago has four players (Toews, Hossa, Kane and Sharp) tied for the team lead with four points.
Red Wings rookie D Brendan Smith was victimized on Chicago's second and third goals, getting caught out of position on a goal by Michal Handzus then getting beaten to a rebound by Bickell less than five minutes later. Red Wings D Jakub Kindl was charged with a game-high four giveaways.
Through six games, both teams have scored 14 goals in the series, with the Blackhawks holding a shots on goal advantage of 5.17 per game. If Detroit is going to take the series in Game Seven, on the road, they will need Jimmy Howard to outperform Corey Crawford in the goaltending battle because there hasn't been a great difference between the teams otherwise.