All season long, Red Wings defenseman Niklas Kronwall has pleaded and prodded his teammates to play a full 60 minutes.
Saturday afternoon in Chicago, Kronwall finally got his wish.
In a dominating performance that ranks right up there in Detroit playoff lore, the Wings received contributions from each and every player and dispatched the Blackhawks rather easily, 4-1, to even up their second-round playoff series at a game apiece.
Stifling team defense combined with timely scoring paced a Detroit attack that was clicking from the opening face-off on.
“Today was our best 60-minute effort of the playoffs,” Red Wing goalie Jimmy Howard told FOX Sports Detroit after the game. “We did a great job from the first period of really getting out of our zone efficiently and not turning the puck over like we did in game one.”
“That allowed us to be faster in the neutral zone and get in on top of their ‘D’.”
It was a complete role reversal from Game 1, when Chicago completely outplayed the Wings, outshooting them 42-21. Saturday, the Wings had 30 shots to Chicago’s 20 — the lowest total for the Blackhawks at home all season.
But as well as the Wings played defensively, it was their offense that really came to life – specifically, Johan Franzen and Val Flippula. Each player scored a key third-period goal, sealing the victory.
Without their secondary stars chipping in, Detroit’s chances of taking this series are diminished considerably.
Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk give everything they have on the ice. They empty their tank every game.
However, you need a complete team effort against the Blackhawks, which is easy to say but difficult to execute.
Each Red Wings player found that extra gear in Game 2, which led to a humbling of the Blackhawks on their home ice.
“The biggest thing, we played for 60 minutes,” Red Wings defense Jonathan Ericsson said. “We played for 20 minutes last game. If we would have just played a full 60 minutes in the first game, we would have had a chance in that one.”
One superior game doesn’t guarantee anything, but one 60-minute effort shows that the Red Wings can play with Chicago.