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Long shift turned momentum in Red Wings' favor

by Corey Masisak

DETROIT -- Around and around the puck went, and the clock just kept ticking.

Patrick Eaves
Patrick Eaves
Right Wing - DET
GOALS: 0 | ASST: 2 | PTS: 2
SOG: 11 | +/-: -1

The Chicago Blackhawks put on a passing clinic at the end of a power play early in the second period, but it ended without many quality shots on net. They kept the puck in the Detroit Red Wings' zone even after the penalty expired, and the pivotal moment of Game 3 of this Western Conference Semifinals series arrived.

Somehow, the Red Wings survived despite having four players on the ice for more than two minutes and two for more than three. Shortly after the marathon shift, the momentum shifted and Detroit rode it to a 3-1 victory and a 2-1 series lead.

"I was very aware and so were my lungs, and my legs were very aware," Detroit forward Patrick Eaves said. "That could have been a turning point if they would have scored on that power play and extended end-zone shift. But with [Jimmy Howard] back there, if we could keep them to the outside and knock any rebounds away, he's going to do a good job for us."

Eaves was on the ice for two minutes and 15 seconds during that shift, which is about three times longer than an ideal one. His shift was short compared to a few of his teammates. Defenseman Niklas Kronwall was on the ice for 2:46. Defenseman Jonathan Ericsson and forward Drew Miller checked in at 3:15.

"More than three minutes? That must be some kind of record," Ericsson said. "Actually, I was kind of standing still in front of the net for a little while. I had the chance to get some big breaths. I wasn't as tired after three minutes as I was after like two, I think.

"I think they had a couple of long shifts and they were wearing on us. It is a long way to change in the second period, so if we don't get it deep in their zone and have a chance to change, it can get tough out there."

From the start of the Chicago power play 54 seconds into the period until those guys were finally able to get off the ice when Howard covered the pick at 4:09, the Blackhawks only put two shots on net. The Detroit skaters blocked five shots, three by Miller.

"I'd like to forget that one. That was a long one," Miller said. "You get stuck on the penalty kill like that and it is tough to get off. You just try to stay tight and I think everyone was blocking shots and trying to get the puck out. Jimmy was making some big saves for us, so I think the key to that is just trying to survive it and get through it and get off the ice as fast as you can."

Only 1:45 went off the clock, with a television timeout mixed in, before Ericsson was back on the ice for his next shift. Miller had nearly four minutes to sit and regroup.

When he did come back on, it was only for 31 seconds because he scored the game-winning goal, jamming home a loose puck in the crease after goaltender Corey Crawford stopped two shots by Eaves.

"You've got to put your head down and try to catch your breath a little bit," Miller said. "It is a tough one. I didn't know it was that long. You try not to do that. That one's going to bring my shift length average up, I think.

"We always want to go out there after you get a goal and get a good push. They turned there to [Cory Emmerton] and he got it down to Patty. Couple shots on net, and it was laying there by the goal line for me to put it in. I've got to credit my linemates. They did a lot of the work for me there. Nonetheless, it is a big goal for our team and we kind of kept going from there."

Miller's goal made it 2-0 after Gustav Nyquist had opened the scoring. After the game, coach Mike Babcock said he thought his third and fourth lines played really well, and in a game where the superstars kind of cancelled each other out, it was the role players on the Red Wings -- and a monster shift -- that turned this contest in the home team's favor.

"You don't want to be a part of those shifts," Eaves said. "But that's what you train all summer for. I didn't think that got too great of scoring chances on it. We kept them on the outside, so we had good sticks and tried to catch our breath between their plays and, yeah, so it was good that we didn't have to burn a timeout or anything like that because we kept them to the outside."

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