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Red Wings' PK must be more efficient

by Bill Roose / Detroit Red Wings

The Red Wings and Jonathan Ericsson know they need to minimize the Blackhawks' power play by doing a better job of clearing pucks from their zone. (Photo by Getty Images)

DETROIT – The Red Wings know that they can’t afford to give the Blackhawks opportunities like they did Saturday at the United Center.

“We took too many penalties,” said Jonathan Ericsson, the only active Wings’ player not to take a penalty in the postseason. “We know they’ve got a good power play. That hurt us. We had chances to get the pucks out but couldn't execute. We’ve got to be more on our toes at the beginning. We didn't play the whole 60 minutes like they did and took too many penalties.”

The Blackhawks took advantage of the Wings’ poor luck to score a pair of power-play goals 2:39 apart in the second period to break a 1‑1 tie in Game 5. The first of Chicago’s power-play goals came after Pavel Datsyuk played nearly a minute and a half without his stick that had broken, and both goals came seconds after great individual efforts by Duncan Keith and Marian Hossa to prevent clearing chances by the Wings. Their actions led to goals by Andrew Shaw and Jonathan Toews, respectively.

“We couldn't get it out, especially when they scored the first power-play goal,” Ericsson said. “We had a few chances to get the puck out. When you don't get it out, it's going to hurt you. We got tired, they were working on us. They were shooting the puck but getting the puck back, too.”

The Red Wings are now 2-5 when allowing a power-play goal in the playoffs, including a 0-3 mark when yielding multiple scores. Detroit has allowed 10 power-play goals in the postseason, the most of any playoff team.

The good news is that the Red Wings’ penalty kill is 14-of-16 (87.5 percent), and a perfect 7-of-7 against the Blackhawks, at Joe Louis Arena.

The Wings had difficulty matching the intensity of a desperate team – especially a Presidents’ Trophy winning team – facing elimination in front of its home fans.

“It's a little easier to play at home, you got the crowd going, you get energized by the crowd,” Ericsson said. “We want to take advantage of that at home. We don't want a seventh game. We like to play at home. The crowd has given us energy.”

However, the Blackhawks have felt all along that their power play held the key to this series, and now that they seemingly have it back on track, confidence is running rampant through the Chicago locker room.

“We got lucky and we made a couple of great plays and Tazer (Toews) finished with a great shot,” Chicago defenseman Brent Seabrook said. “(Patrick) Eaves had it in the slot. I hit him and he didn’t get as much wood on it as you wanted. Hoss made a great play at the blue line and they slid it to Dunc, (who) went to Tazer and he made a great shot.

“You score, you get a little confidence boost. And the second one we went out there and tried to do the same thing. Tazer won the draw back right away. It was good.”

HOME COOKING: The Blackhawks were clearly the better team Saturday. The Wings admitted that they didn’t play well, didn’t skate enough, and failed to execute in any level of the game. That being said, the Red Wings know that they have a very big opportunity to close-out the series in front of their home crowd on Monday night.

Home-ice has made a huge difference in the conference semifinals where the home teams are 17-3 – that’s a .850 winning percentage – in the second round. Only Chicago, Ottawa and the New York Rangers have lost at home in this round.

Saturday’s home teams – Chicago and Boston – both won games to improve to 47-20 (.701) in the 2013 Stanley Cup playoffs. The Wings are 4-1 at home this postseason

“We'll be fine. Have to keep the room loose. Can't get frustrated,” forward Daniel Cleary said. “Monday's a game big, we'll stress the importance of a good start, the importance of getting it in behind their defense and being physical. We need to shoot pucks, get in front of (Corey) Crawford. Need to play a tight game.”

POST-GAME NOTES: Saturday’s Game 5 was just the second time that NBC has broadcast a non-Stanley Cup finals game in prime time. The first and last time was at the 2011 Winter Classic when weather conditions delayed the start of the game at Pittsburgh’s Heinz Field between the Penguins and Washington Capitals. The game’s original start time was postponed from a 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. … With Saturday’s win, Chicago coach Joel Quenneville, who has never defeated the Red Wings in a playoff series (0-5), tied Detroit’s Mike Babcock for the most career playoff victories among active NHL coaches (78).

Follow Bill Roose on Twitter | @Bill_Roose

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