Last Saturday, Robert Lang scored the game-tying goal with minutes left in the third period, sending the game to overtime. The Blackhawks went on to win the game in the shootout.
And on Friday, Lang, who spent parts of the last three seasons with the Red Wings, delivered the knockout punch, lifting Chicago to a 3-2 win at Joe Louis Arena.
With the Wings fighting off a second consecutive penalty, Lang clocked a one-timer that clipped Dominik Hasek’s shoulder and rolled over the goal line midway through the third. It was Lang’s second goal of the season — and both have been against his old teammates.
“He’s got ability; we all know that,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “I don’t think anybody’s surprised about that. The bottom line is that we’ve got to be better.”
Penalties killed the Wings, who sat for 21 minutes in the box. The Blackhawks managed only nine shots against the Wings at even strength, but peppered the Detroit net for 20 with the man-advantage, netting two goals.
“The bottom line is any time you’re going to the box as much as we were tonight," Babcock said, "you’re not using enough people and you’re using all of your energy to kill penalties.”
Chicago got its first goal on a power play at 17:33 of the second. Even though Detroit held a 2-0 lead going into the frame, two quick strikes from the Hawks evened the game and shifted momentum — for good.
With Jiri Hudler
called off for holding the stick, Chris Chelios and Nicklas Lidstrom
couldn’t find the puck near the crease. Eight players converged around Hasek, but only one — the Hawks' Patrick Sharp — found the puck and roofed it into the empty top half of the net, cutting Detroit’s lead in half.
A minute later, Brent Seabrook’s bullet from the point found its way through traffic in front and sailed past a screened Hasek to knot the game at 2-2. The Hawks also battled back from a two-goal deficit last week against the Wings.
“You got to give credit to them for battling back really good,” Wings left wing Tomas Holmstrom
said. “A 2-0 lead should be enough for us.”
The Wings dominated the early going of the game. At 7:26 of the first period, Holmstrom found Henrik Zetterberg
near the goal line in the corner. Zetterberg threw the pick toward the net, where it pinballed off Hawks defenseman Brent Sopel and behind Nikolai Khabibulin. The goal extended Zetterberg’s home scoring streak to 20 games, dating back to last season.
The Wings took a 2-0 lead midway through the first period. Tomas Kopecky collided with a Hawk in the slot, but managed to slide the puck over to open ice. Kris Draper stepped up, delivering a bomb that Khabibulin bobbled and watched trickle over the goal line.
After a three-game homestand, the Wings now embark on a weeklong, four-game road trip to the west coast.
“Now we’re going to find out if we can win on the road,” Babcock said. “I think that’s really important to find out what kind of team you have.”