Chicago is in a dogfight to make the playoffs and came into the game riding a four-game winning streak, and despite Detroit being winless in its last six games (0-5-1), the Wings were determined not be an easy mark for their visitors from the Windy City.
From an early spectacular save by goalie Jonathan Bernier to an outstanding penalty kill and an overall physicality, the Red Wings proved to themselves they have a lot of fight remaining in their final 14 games of the season.
As much as the Blackhawks tried to press the issue, the Wings were relentless, giving the Hawks little time and space to make plays.
Tyler Bertuzzi and Robby Fabbri (power play) scored for Detroit, while superstar Patrick Kane lit the lamp for the Blackhawks.
Bernier (14-21-3) picked up the victory for the Wings and was Detroit's best player. He stopped 32 of the 33 shots for a save percentage of .970.
Corey Crawford (15-19-3) took the loss for the Hawks, making 23 saves out of the 25 shots the Red Wings fired for a .920 save percentage.
With the win, the Wings and Hawks split the season series at a game apiece. It was the 739th meeting between the two clubs.
Up next for Detroit (16-48-5) is a 5 p.m. face-off against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Sunday at Little Caesars Arena. It is the first of three meetings the Wings will have with the Lightning in their final 13 games of the season.
Chicago (31-29-8), in an almost must-win situation, will host the St. Louis Blues, also on Sunday.
1. Jonathan Bernier: Bernier said the other day after practice that he is keeping his focus on making all the saves that come from the outside first and then do the best he can to make the big saves. But at 1:12 of the first period, Drake Caggiula and Alex DeBrincat came in on a 2-on-1 and Caggiula passed from the right to left circle and Bernier made a spectacular sliding save to keep the game scoreless. Bernier also had to be on top of his game during the penalty kills, stopping Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith from the high slot a couple of times. It wasn't until 18:55 of the second when Jonathan Toews made a pass while prone behind the net to Brandon Saad, who found Kane open at the right doorstep that the Blackhawks found a way to solve Bernier. Since Dec. 12, Bernier has improved his save percentage to .923, which is eighth best in the league in that time frame among goalies with more than 10 starts. Keith, DeBrincat, Toews and Kane each had six shots and Bernier stopped all but one of those.
Quotable: "That's what we try to do every night but to be honest I thought it was our PK tonight, and we scored a big goal there on the power play. I think that's what made the difference. Obviously you feel good. I just want to keep going in that direction. I thought we gave up maybe a little bit too many odd-man rushes tonight but I thought our PK and our power play was really good." - Bernier
Quotable II: "It was a huge save, especially the first shift. We had a great shift, maybe one of the best of our season, and that's just the way it happens. Sometimes the puck goes the other way, and he was ready and that save, from then on we didn't really look back. It was a great start to the game for us, which we haven't been the best at lately. We showed up to play tonight and it was fun, and Bernie was definitely there for us." - Dylan Larkin
Quotable III: "I thought we had a really good first shift. And then a tough little stretch where I forget what happened. Obviously a big two-on-one and he made a big save. I think that got us. That opened our eyes a bit that we gotta figure it out a bit. He stood on his head the rest of the game and gave us a chance to score." - Bertuzzi
Quotable IV: "It was a huge save, huge. That was an elite, elite, elite save. Sometimes goalies can make the read or whatever, he had to get across. I would have guessed it would have been in. What that did was just allow us to find our game. I thought the first couple minutes we weren't very good. He made that save and I thought after that for 40 we were really good. We weren't very good in the third. It looked like a team that hasn't won much, kind of self-combusted at times. But he stayed strong. Again, I thought for 40 minutes we were good. We looked like a hockey team, we had the puck a lot, we did a lot of the things we want to do to be a better team." - Wings coach Jeff Blashill
2. Tyler Bertuzzi: It had been a while since Bertuzzi, the team's leading goal scorer for much of the season, had scored, with his last goal coming 14 games ago on Feb. 6 at Buffalo. But just 20 seconds into the second, Larkin sent the puck from the left boards to Bertuzzi in the slot and Bertuzzi didn't miss. Bertuzzi moved past Larkin into sole possession of first on the team with 19 goals. Trevor Daley had the second assist. It was also the second fastest goal by a Wing to start a period since Anthony Mantha scored 15 seconds into the third against the Dallas Stars on Oct. 6. Bertuzzi finished with 25 shifts for 19:40, had three shots, two hits, two giveaways, one takeaway, one blocked shot and was even.
Quotable: "I think everyone on our line brings something different to the table. Larks' speed, Mo's body. I'm just going to the net and trying to be hard on the puck. I think we just jell together. It's been good. As long as we're winning, that's not something I think about at all. Obviously you want to help score, you want to contribute to wins. It felt good to get a goal tonight. It was bigger to get a win." - Bertuzzi
Quotable II: "I think he was definitely thinking about it. It was huge for him to get that. It was a great shot. He was on tonight, making plays and playing hard. It was great to see." - Larkin
Quotable III: "I think Bert has been real good the last couple games. The thing I've said to Bert all year is it's nice to get points but I want him to be hard skill, because when this team is good enough to be in a better spot, we're going to need him to be hard skill, not just a guy who scores on a bad team. I think he's done a good job of understanding that and making sure he stays to his identity." - Blashill
3. Robby Fabbri/Dylan Larkin: Midway through the second period, Chicago defenseman Connor Murphy was called for tripping Alex Biega. On the ensuing power play, Fabbri let a shot rip from the right point and beat Crawford glove-side. It was Fabbri's 14th goal and sixth with the man-advantage. It was Fabbri's third game-winning goal, which ties his single-season best set back in 2015-16. Gustav Lindstrom had the primary assist on the goal, his first NHL point. Frans Nielsen had the second assist. Larkin's assist on Bertuzzi's goal was his 50th point of the season (18-32-50), giving him three consecutive seasons with 50-plus points. Since 1994-95, only eight other Wings have three straight seasons with at least 50 points: Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk, Nicklas Lidstrom, Brendan Shanahan, Sergei Fedorov, Brett Hull and Steve Yzerman. Larkin is also the 10th Wing to collect three seasons of 50-plus points before turning 24. Fabbri finished with 18 shifts for 15:56, had two shots, three hits, two giveaways, was 0-for-3 in face-offs and was even. Larkin finished with 25 shifts for 23:05, had two shots, four hits, one blocked shot, was 11-of-16 in face-offs and was even.
Quotable: "Fabbs has been a big spark for us. He's a waterbug out there. He works hard and he plays physical. He does it all really. He got moved into the middle of the ice tonight and I thought he did a great job. He carried the play a lot. He scored a huge goal for us. Great play by the corners in the corner and then Lindy to slide it over and for him to get his first point was great." - Larkin
Quotable II: "When we got (Fabbri), I'd played with him before. I knew what we were getting. He plays hard every night. He's not the biggest guy but he shows a lot of heart. He's got a really good skill set, too and obviously that showed tonight with his goal. He's playing hard every night. He keeps creating. He's been a big part of this team." - Bertuzzi
Quotable III: "Really pleased. I thought (Fabbri) was a little bit like the rest of our team, I thought he lost his way for a couple games. Then he has that scare against Jersey. It's something him and I have talked about when we first traded for him, that he can't play, he has to play with great tenacity to be a real good player in this league. If he doesn't, he won't be a real good player. I asked him when he came to us, 'Do you want to be a fine player or do you want to be a real good player?' He shows, I think, on a fairly consistent basis he wants to be a really good player. To do that, he's gotta play with that physicality and that tenacity. I think it's great that he's come back and with the scare, been fine and kept going." - Blashill