Detroit Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard, second from left, celebrates with teammates after they defeated the Chicago Blackhawks 5-4 during an NHL hockey game in Chicago, Sunday, March 7, 2010. (THE ASSOCIATED PRESS/Nam Y. Huh)
CHICAGO - Not even a hat trick by Chicago's Andrew Ladd could sidetrack the Detroit Red Wings.
Pavel Datsyuk capped a five-goal second period and Detroit rallied for a 5-4 victory over the Blackhawks on Sunday. Ladd's first goal of the game gave Chicago a 2-0 lead in the first period, but Detroit took charge in the second before Ladd added two more goals in the third.
"They seemed to take it off the pedal a little there in the second and we took advantage of it," Brian Rafalski said. "We got on a little bit of a roll there and just kept coming."
Rafalski started the surge with a power play goal 4:12 into the second to cut the lead to 2-1. Nicklas Lidstrom, Jason Williams, Valtteri Filppula and Datsyuk followed with goals as the Red Wings won for the fourth time in five games.
Henrik Zetterberg and Todd Bertuzzi added two assists apiece.
The Red Wings, hampered by injuries early in the season, strengthened their grip on the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. Detroit has won eight straight Central Division titles, and just might be finding their winning touch again.
"We came out and went to town in the second period," goaltender Jimmy Howard said after making 28 saves. "We really played well in the neutral zone and counterattacked and got something on them."
Defenceman Duncan Keith scored Chicago's first goal, and after Ladd's two third-period goals the Blackhawks missed on several opportunities to tie the score in the final seven minutes.
"We've got to play a 60-minute game instead of a 50," Ladd said. "I don't know if we got too confident, maybe we think it's an easy game. We stop working. We stop playing simple. We stop winning battles."
Keith opened the scoring at 4:24 with his career-high 13th goal before Ladd made it 2-0, firing in a one-timer from the right circle off Filppula's turnover.
The Blackhawks' meltdown began after an apparent goal by Patrick Kane early in the second period was disallowed because Chicago's Dustin Byfuglien bumped into Howard.
"It was huge," Lidstrom said. "If they get that third one, it could be a different game. They gain a ton of momentum and we have to come from three down."
Rafalski got Detroit on the board from the high slot during a 4-on-3 power play, then Lidstrom added a tying goal 28 seconds later. Despite a timeout by Chicago coach Joel Quenneville, the Red Wings were just getting started.
Williams and Filppula scored 42 seconds apart midway through the second period to give Detroit a 4-2 lead, and Datsyuk stole the puck at the blue line and added a breakaway goal with three seconds left in the period to make it 5-2.
Datsyuk has eight goals and 10 assists in his last 14 games.
Ladd added his second goal at 1:59 of the third, scoring from the right circle, and recorded his first hat trick on a deflection of Keith's shot from the point with 7:54 remaining.
Chicago goalie Cristobal Huet allowed four goals on 17 shots before being replaced by Antti Niemi at 10:27 of the second period. Huet was making his third straight start after Niemi had been between the pipes the previous five games.
Niemi allowed one goal on eight shots.
"I'm not blaming Huet there," Quenneville said. "I called the timeout and that didn't seem to slow it down. (Detroit) got two tips on cross-ice passes."
Notes: Bertuzzi suffered a lower-body injury late in the second period and didn't return. ... Keith extended his points streak to six games for a career high. His career-high 59 points is second among NHL defencemen to Washington's Mike Green. ... Kane had an assist to extend his point streak to eight games. He has four goals and nine assists in the span. ... The Blackhawks' season-high crowd of 22,309 was their 84th straight sellout.