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Blackhawks finally convert on power play

by Brian Hedger

CHICAGO – It was getting to the point with the Chicago Blackhawks' power play where fans started wishing their favorite team could just decline penalties the way they can in football.

Coming into Saturday night's Game 5 of a Western Conference Semifinal series against the rival Detroit Red Wings at United Center, the Blackhawks were 1-for-12 (8.3 percent) in the series on the man-advantage and 3-for-25 (12 percent) in nine games of the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Even worse, in Game 4 at Joe Louis Arena – a 2-0 Detroit victory that gave the Red Wings a commanding 3-1 series lead – Chicago managed to just one shot on goal in three power-play opportunities. The Blackhawks actually topped that number by one shot while shorthanded in that game.

That all changed in the second period of Game 5, when a pair of Blackhawks power-play tallies by Andrew Shaw and captain Jonathan Toews broke open another tight game and paved the way to an impressive 4-1 win to force Game 6 on Monday night in Detroit.

Shaw's came at 13:08 of the second with the score knotted 1-1 and Detroit's Daniel Cleary having just tied it a little less than four minutes earlier. Standing in front of the net, he tipped a point blast by Duncan Keith past Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard to give the Blackhawks a lead they'd not relinquish.

"(Shaw's) first goal there on the power play was huge for us," star forward Patrick Sharp said. "He was taking a beating in front of the net, probably got knocked down four or five times and still had energy to celebrate after he scored, so that was a big shift for him and the other four guys out there and we kind of responded afterwards."

Toews' goal came about three minutes later to make it 3-1 Chicago, as he fired it off Howard's mask and over his shoulder into the upper right corner of the net. It was also his first goal this postseason.

"Howard is a great goalie," Shaw said. "When he sees pucks, he's going to stop it. We tried to create as much havoc as we could in front of the net and it worked to our advantage. We finally got the power play going and it felt great there."

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