"It was all about getting a split, and that's what we did. You want to get as close to that fourth win as possible. We're right there. I don’t want to give you clichés, but the fourth one's going to be tough. They're going to want to come out and respond after this, obviously. They're not going to be happy with the score. For us, it's about playing the way we've played so far and doing the right things and staying disciplined."
-- Kirk Maltby
-- Sunday's 6-1 win against the Chicago Blackhawks
at the United Center has presented the Detroit Red Wings
with a golden opportunity -- an opportunity they don't want to let slip away.
Armed with a 3-1 series lead in the Western Conference Finals, the Red Wings -- who won easily on Sunday without the likes of Nicklas Lidstrom
and Pavel Datsyuk
-- can earn a return trip to the Stanley Cup Final with a victory in Game 5 at Joe Louis Arena Wednesday night (7:30 p.m. ET, VERSUS, CBC, RDS).
Wanting no part of another trip to the Windy City, the Red Wings will do everything they can to close the series out Wednesday. With Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final slated for June 5, a win on Wednesday would give Detroit some much needed rest and extra time for players like Datsyuk and Lidstrom to heal. Kris Draper
also was forced to miss Game 4 against the Hawks due to a groin injury.
"It was all about getting a split, and that's what we did," Detroit forward Kirk Maltby
said. "You want to get as close to that fourth win as possible. We're right there. I don’t want to give you clichés, but the fourth one's going to be tough. They're going to want to come out and respond after this, obviously. They're not going to be happy with the score. For us, it's about playing the way we've played so far and doing the right things and staying disciplined."
If the Red Wings manage to repeat as Stanley Cup champs, one might point to Sunday's Game 4 as the defining moment of the team's playoff run. Despite missing Datsyuk and Lidstrom -- finalists for the Hart and Norris Trophies, respectively -- Detroit found a way to get the job done and pulled within a win of the Finals.
But Wings coach Mike Babcock isn't ready to open any champagne bottles just yet.
"Let's not get carried away," Babcock said. "We won the third game here. You've got to win four in a series to move on. Obviously, we're real hopeful that we're going to be able to close out the Hawks, but they're a good team. They're going to bounce back and play us hard. We've just got to get prepared for the next game."
A game the Blackhawks need in order to extend their season. The Wings are fully aware of the desperation their opponents will play with on Wednesday, so coming out with a victory will certainly be no easy task.
"It's huge … we've given ourselves an opportunity to finish them off at home," said Wings forward Johan Franzen
, who tallied his 10th goal of the playoffs Sunday. "It's a lot better than 2-2, obviously. We're going to try to finish them off. They're going to come out hard and try to get a win."
Having Lidstrom and Datsyuk back in the lineup would certainly help. Fortunately for the Wings, they have an extra day off before Game 5, which can only help the healing process.
"Hopefully, it's not too severe and he'll be back sooner than later," Maltby said. "We'll find out more obviously on the flight back or maybe (Monday). If he can't go next game, it's up to the guys that dress to do what we did (in Game 4) and step up. Everyone's got to take a little bit of a role."
Contact Brian Compton at: email@example.com.