CHICAGO – Except for the whole pre-game Stanley Cup banner-raising ceremony, it was exactly the kind of game that's become common between the Chicago Blackhawks and their main rival, the Detroit Red Wings.
It was hard-hitting. It was fast-paced. It was akin to a playoff atmosphere -- and it was just the second game of the season for both teams on Saturday night in front of 22,161 at sold out United Center, which had three new championship banners raised to the rafters.
The one thing it didn't have -- much to the chagrin of the Hawks and their fans -- was a Chicago victory.
Detroit's Valtteri Filppula helped sour the celebration by scoring twice, including the game-winner in the third period, for a 3-2 win in the kind of game Detroit goalie Chris Osgood said the Wings secretly longed for back when Chicago was a cellar-dweller.
"It was no fun coming here when the building was half-full," Osgood said after making 26 saves in the win and helping turn away three Hawks power plays in the third period. "I remember my first year was the last year of the Chicago Stadium and it was awesome coming in here, and it kind of lost that. To me, the Chicago Blackhawks should never be gone, ever. It's an Original Six team. It was shocking that it even happened in the first place."
Before the game, it was the Hawks and their fans having all the fun by putting a final cap on the Cup title. Captain Jonathan Toews even got a feel for what it would've been like to win at home when he skated it to center ice over a computerized red carpet while hoisting the Cup.
"There was nothing better than that," Toews said. "I guess that was it, though. That was cool. Unfortunately it would have been nice to get a win tonight and really give the fans a salute at the end of the game – but we'll be doing that often enough pretty soon I hope."
Once the ceremony concluded, it was back to "meaningful" hockey for both teams – though the Hawks were without defenseman Brian Campbell and forward Patrick Sharp, who was scratched with an undisclosed upper body injury earlier in the day.
The Wings struck first on Filppula's first goal 12:59 into the game, assisted by a great feed from Todd Bertuzzi to beat Hawks goalie Marty Turco. It looked like the Wings would take the 1-0 lead into the first intermission until Viktor Stalberg broke free in the Detroit zone and drew a hooking penalty by Ruslan Salei with 1:26 left in the period.
Defenseman Brent Seabrook then prompted the first official playing of the Hawks' goal song, "Chelsea Dagger" by slapping home a one-timer off a great feed by Marian Hossa with just 0.5 seconds left.
Bertuzzi put Detroit back up quickly with his first goal of the season just 1:12 into the second, with the goal withstanding a video review. Not to be outdone, Bryan Bickell countered for the Hawks 37 seconds later with his second of the season to make it 2-2.
The Hawks largely controlled the action from that point for the rest of the second period, but couldn't get a shot past Osgood. Filppula then scored his second goal – the eventual game-winner -- on a power play 7:01 into the third after Hawks defenseman John Scott tripped in the Chicago zone.
Filppula skated around Scott and flipped a puck over a sprawled out Niklas Hjalmarsson to beat Turco through the five hole.
"Definitely a lot of luck," Filppula said. "There's not much to say there. It's good that it went in, but so lucky."
The Wings, who will take luck over a loss, then killed off three power plays the rest of the third to make the lead stand up.
"We had three power plays after (Filppula's second goal) to get the equalizer and didn't generate enough," Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "They killed penalties well. Our entry tonight was giving us problems. We didn't sustain enough pucks to get some offensive zone time. I thought (the power play) was good in Colorado. Tonight I can't say that."
Quenneville was clearly unhappy with both the result and most of the effort by his team, which is 0-1-1 after two games.
"We're measured by wins and losses, so we're not happy right now," he said. "There's areas we can be better and some guys across the board we need more (from)."
All told, it was just another action-packed installment in a rivalry that both sides keep heating up with each game. The Wings, who beat Anaheim at home on Friday, are off to the hot start, but both sides know it's going to be a long, tough season series ahead.
"They are always a competitor and are always going to be there," Toews said. "They have been for years, and looking at their roster and the way they played tonight, we are going to have some great battles throughout the regular season. There is no hiding from teams like that, and we want to take them on head-on and prove ourselves against them."