Brian Compton | NHL.com Staff Writer
DETROIT -- Each and every night, it seems as if somebody different in Detroit's lineup scores the big goal to lead the Red Wings to victory.
Such was the case again on Tuesday night, as Mikael Samuelsson finished off a 3-on-1 at 5:14 of overtime to lift the Wings to a 3-2 win over the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals at Joe Louis Arena.
The win gave the Red Wings a 2-0 lead in this best-of-7 series and has them within two victories of a return trip to the Stanley Cup Final.
Incredibly, another game passed without a goal from the likes of Pavel Datsyuk, Marian Hossa or Tomas Holmstrom. Henrik Zetterberg was held off the scoresheet, too. Yet the Red Wings will have the Blackhawks in must-win mode when the series shifts to Chicago for Game 3 on Friday night.
That's because of another brilliant defensive play by Detroit. This time, it was Samuelsson who created a turnover against Brian Campbell at the Wings' blue line that sparked an odd-man rush the other way. It culminated when Valtteri Filppula fed Samuelsson for a wrist shot from the slot that zipped past Nikolai Khabibulin and left Detroit Rock City rocking.
"They had something good going on there," Samuelsson said. "I just went over, put the stick down. I just was going to throw it across. I saw they went the other way and I kept skating with them. Great pass from Fil. Thank God it went in."
For the Red Wings, so much depth is a blessing. Not many teams can win when its top performers can't find the back of the net.
This one can, though.
"Depth again was pretty key," said forward Dan Cleary, who scored again when he created yet another turnover against Brent Seabrook and beat Khabibulin on a breakaway at 14:06 of the second period to give Detroit a 2-1 lead. "We got contributions from every player. It delivered big for us again."
Campbell -- Chicago's big free-agent signee last summer -- put the blame for the winning goal on his shoulders.
"I've got to make that play," Campbell said. "He's got a wide lane and walking down. It's pretty frustrating right now after we battled hard. It's (an unfortunate) way to lose."
These days, for the Wings, it was a typical way to win. Despite not getting the normal contributions from Datsyuk and Hossa -- Datsyuk has now gone 11 games without a goal, although he did have an assist on Tuesday -- Detroit once again found a way to win. Brian Rafalski erased a 1-0 deficit with 3:17 left in the first with a power-play goal less than four minutes after Chicago's Jonathan Toews had scored during a man advantage.
"It's nice to have depth," Zetterberg said. "We know that every line can score. You can kind of wait on opportunities to get your chances. You just play with discipline and you'll have your chance."
After Toews gave the building a scare with his second goal of the night at 12:20 of the third period, tying the game at 2-2, Samuelsson got his chance in overtime -- and buried it.
Of course, the chemistry between he, Hudler and Filppula played a huge role in the tally. While Filppula appeared to have a clear shot, he opted to drop a pass back to the slot to Samuelsson.
"I thought about it, but as soon as I got it the puck started bouncing a little bit," Filppula said. "I don't know. Sammy shoots better anyway, so it was a better choice."
None of it, of course, would have been possible if not for Samuelsson's ability to create the turnover at his own blue line. It really was nothing new in this series, much to the dismay of Chicago coach Joel Quenneville.
"I don't think we've seen it all year, but we've given up three goals with puck possession at the offensive blue line," Quenneville said. "We have the puck, but we get the shots blocked. All three of them end up in our net. All huge goals."
And all scored by someone not skating on Detroit's top line. It's that type of balance that has them only a pair of wins away from a return trip to the Final. Hudler scored in Detroit's 5-2 victory in Game 1 on Sunday.
"What a great play," Cleary said. "Hud's creative vision … Fil had a lot of poise there. It was a nice tic-tac-bang, and they got it to the right guy. He has a real good shot. It was good to see. He's a real good player and he's been huge for us. He's been a real big gamer for us."
Cleary is one of several players in the Wings' dressing room who is convinced his team's No. 1 line will break out soon enough. That can't be good news for the Blackhawks.
"Everyone keeps talking about Datsyuk, Holmstrom, Hossa, but if you watch closely, those guys are so dangerous," Cleary said. "They're all over the puck. They're creating chances and they're a bounce away from breaking out."
Contact Brian Compton at: email@example.com.
After peppering Chris Osgood earlier in the third period, the trio of Jonathan Toews, Dustin Byfuglien and Kris Versteeg managed to score the tying goal with 7:40 remaining in regulation. Toews -- who also scored Chicago's first goal -- redirected an off-balance shot by Versteeg from the left circle past Osgood, silencing what was a raucous crowd.
Niklas Kronwall. The Wings' bruising defenseman received more than 25 minutes of ice time and delivered four hits in the victory.
Dan Cleary's goal at 14:06 of the second period was nearly a carbon copy of his first tally in Game 1. Once again, Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook coughed up the puck at the blue line, which led to a breakaway by Cleary, who ripped a wrist shot through Nikolai Khabibulin's legs. Cleary has 12 points in 13 playoff games.
Wings defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom took two minor penalties in the second period. He had two penalty minutes in the Wings' first 12 playoff games and just 30 during the regular season. The Wings' captain hadn't received four penalty minutes in a game since Nov. 20 at Edmonton.
Just as they gasped on Sunday when forward Adam Burish barely escaped serious injury, the Blackhawks survived another scare on Tuesday early in the second period when defenseman Brent Seabrook took a Brian Rafalski slap shot in the midsection. Seabrook, though, skated to the bench on his own and didn't miss a shift.