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Eaves' hustle gives spark to Wings

by Bill Roose / Detroit Red Wings

Patrick Eaves picked up an assists in Sunday's shootout loss, his four of the season, which leads all bottom six forwards. (Photo by Dave Reginek)

DETROIT – Hard work, discipline, and attention to detail has been the mantra for the new-look Red Wings this season. And it was epitomized by Patrick Eaves Sunday afternoon when he helped set-up Tomas Tatar’s third-period goal that gave Detroit a 1-0 lead over the Chicago Blackhawks at Joe Louis Arena.

Eaves, who missed an entire calendar year with post-concussion symptoms, raced down the right wing with inside position on Nick Leddy before beating the Blackhawks’ defenseman to the puck below the goal line.

From there, rookie center Joakim Andersson got the puck behind the net and pushed it out front to Tatar who finished the play by beating Chicago goalie Corey Crawford to the short side.

“I hopped off the bench there and Kronner saw me. It was kind of a foot race,” said Eaves who’s picked up a goal and an assist in the last two games. “I got on the inside track and kind of squeezed him off and lifted his stick up and Andy got in there and threw it right out there to Tatar and he banged it in. That was a full line play for us.”

Without Eaves’ hustle on the play, the Red Wings likely don’t score.

“He makes good decisions out there, you always know what you're going to get,” said captain Henrik Zetterberg, of Eaves. “It’s fun when you can contribute offense, too. He made some good plays and the play today was real nice.”

Despite the pretty play by the Andersson line, the Red Wings had to settle for one-point in the standings, losing to the Blackhawks, 2-1, in a shootout. It was the ninth straight game – dating back to the 2010-11 season – that these two Original Six rivals have battled to a one-goal finish.

The Joe was electric Sunday, akin an atmosphere usually reserved for playoff hockey in the Motor City. However, there were special circumstances surrounding this Sunday matinee. The Blackhawks came to town riding a historic start, and the Wings desperately wanted to be the club that knocked them from their ride.

“Obviously, we needed these two points,” Eaves said. “Then with their streak going we would have liked to have knocked it off. But more importantly, we needed the two points.

“They knew what was on the line, and so did we. Towards the end the intensity really picked up.”

But in the end, the Blackhawks escape with their record intact and growing to 22 consecutive games without a loss in regulation. They have earned a point in the last 28 regular-season games, dating back to last season, tying the 1977-78 Blackhawks for the second best streak in NHL history.

The Blackhawks eventually won when Patrick Kane, whose power-play goal late in the third forced overtime, scored the lone shootout goal when he snapped a shot that beat Jimmy Howard stick-side.

“In a competitive league, they're not making it competitive,” Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “In saying that, they're 12-0-3 in one-goal games. So they find a way to win. That's depth and that's skill.”

THREE STARS: 3, Patrick Kane, CHI (1 goal); 2, Jimmy Howard, DET (32 saves, L); 1, Corey Crawford, CHI (32 saves, W).

Follow Bill Roose on Twitter | @Bill_Roose

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