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Red Wings ready to defend home ice vs. Blackhawks

by Brian Hedger


(Best-of-7 series tied, 1-1)


Big story: The Chicago Blackhawks had a chance to put itself in good position heading on the road for Game 3 and Game 4 this week, but lost the second game of this Western Conference Semifinals series against the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday by a 4-1 score. The Red Wings stole home-ice advantage and the Blackhawks now must win one of the next two contests to take it back. More importantly will be how Chicago responds Monday night, after Detroit dominated the puck and slowed down the Blackhawks' rush game at the same time. Chicago's 20 shots on goal in Game 2 was its least in a Stanley Cup Playoff game since April 27, 2009.

Team Scope:

Blackhawks: Viktor Stalberg is likely to get back in the Chicago lineup after being scratched the first two games because of a coaching decision. Stalberg is one of the fastest skaters in the NHL and fills out the Blackhawks' third line on the right wing, with Bryan Bickell on the left side and scrappy rookie Andrew Shaw in the middle. That line in particular gave Detroit some trouble this season, especially in the two games at Joe Louis Arena, and coach Joel Quenneville is hoping for a similar effect on Monday night. Chicago also needs to come up with a way to get its rush game going again, so it can keep constant pressure on goalie Jimmy Howard and create more scoring chances.

"I noticed the pace of their game was a lot higher," forward Patrick Sharp said of the Red Wings in Game 2. "Their compete level was higher and they clearly wanted that game more than we did. I mean, we wanted to win, but didn't play the way we felt … like we deserved to win. I think we can [play] a lot better than we did. To beat these guys, you've got to play hard from start to finish."

Red Wings: Detroit backed up what it preached after Game 1, when the Red Wings said tired legs from a grueling cross-country, seven-game conference quarterfinals series against the Anaheim Ducks was the biggest reason they were outskated by Chicago in a 4-1 loss in the series opener. Detroit looked like a different team in Game 2, outskating Chicago and paying better attention to the middle of the ice to help slow down the Blackhawks' attack. Howard had to make 19 saves, but many were timely and impressive. Damien Brunner, Brendan Smith, Johan Franzen and Valtteri Filppula all scored in the win.

"At the start of the year, we weren't a good team," coach Mike Babcock said. "We all understood that, but we buckled down and we got better. It's been a fun year for us. If you would have asked me before the playoffs, I would've told you the same thing. It's been fun for us. Then suddenly you have a little success in the playoffs and it's more fun."

Who's hot: Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane scored his first goal of these playoffs in Game 2, which was his second in his past 20 postseason games. Sharp picked up an assist to extend his points streak to six games. … Red Wings forward Damien Brunner scored another goal after also scoring in the series opener.

Injury report: Blackhawks forward Michal Handzus and defenseman Johnny Oduya didn't practice Sunday for unspecified reasons but Quenneville said they are fine. … Red Wings forward Mikael Samuelsson (upper body) is day-to-day. Regular third-line center Darren Helm (back) and rookie defenseman Danny DeKeyser (hand) are out.

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