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NHL Playoff Game Day 19: Red Wings-Blackhawks; Kings-Sharks

After losing 4-1 in Game 1, Detroit returned the favor with a 4-1 win of their own over Chicago in Game 2. (Photo by Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images)

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After losing 4-1 in Game 1, Detroit returned the favor with a 4-1 win of their own over Chicago in Game 2. (Photo by Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images)

GAME 2: DETROIT 4, CHICAGO 1 – SERIES TIED 1-1

Why Detroit won: The Red Wings were opportunistic offensively, disciplined defensively and they got good goaltending. The two days of rest helped them get over their seven-game, first-round hangover that had spilled over into Game 1 of Round 2. They looked fresh and focused and played a relatively error-free game after looking a little out of sorts in the series opener. Coach Mike Babcock rolled all four lines, with no Detroit forward reaching the 20-minute mark in ice time. And simply put, the Wings’ top players outplayed the Hawks’ best.

Why Chicago lost: Chicago was a step behind Detroit all afternoon, but the Hawks were right with the Wings on the scoreboard through the first 47 minutes of the game. Neither team had much of a territorial advantage through two periods and it wasn’t until Johan Franzen’s insurance goal that Detroit finally took over the game. The teams finished about even in faceoffs, blocked shots, hits, giveaways and takeaways. Detroit edged them out through 40 minutes, then capitalized on their chances in the third to put Chicago away.

Play of the game: It wasn’t the most important play of the afternoon tilt, but it was the most worthy of the highlight reels. Valtteri Filppula did his best Bobby Orr impersonation, flying through the air as he backhanded the puck past Corey Crawford for Detroit’s fourth goal.



Three stars
1. Henrik Zetterberg: If the post-season is a war of wills, then Zetterberg is winning the battle with Jonathan Toews. His Hawks counterpart has looked terrible at times in the post-season, while Zetterberg has taken his play to another level. He did so again in Game 2, assisting on goals No. 2 and 4 for the Wings and was the team’s most dangerous player offensively.

2. Niklas Kronwall: After being minus-2 last game, Kronwall was plus-2 in a game-high 25:52 minutes of ice time. He wasn’t spectacular, and he’s still struggling to contribute offensively, but he rebounded from a below-average performance to steady the defense through two periods before the offense took over.

3. Jimmy Howard: The 20 shots he faced were by far his fewest of the playoffs, but Howard gave the Wings the solid goaltending they needed and kept them close through the first two frames, which allowed his team to turn it on in the third and cruise to the win.

What’s next: After Game 1, Mike Babcock was at pains to shoot down questions concerning his team’s ability to match the higher skilled Hawks. Now, it’ll be Joel Quenneville’s turn to deflect criticism. But just as Babcock wasn’t worried how his team would respond after losing, Quenneville isn’t likely to fret about how his club will perform when the series shifts to Detroit Monday. The Wings played their most complete game of the playoffs, while the Hawks have yet to hit that next gear, which their coach knows they can get to. In brief, Chicago knows it can play better, but Game 2 might be the best the Wings can play. - Ronnie Shuker

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GAME 3: SAN JOSE 2, LOS  ANGELES 1 (OT) – KINGS LEAD 2-1

Why San Jose won: Because after outplaying L.A. for the third straight game in this series they were finally rewarded with a win. Though it only resulted in the one early goal, the Sharks did a good job preventing Jonathan Quick from pushing out to cut down the angle by planting big bodies at the top of the crease. Defensively, San Jose kept the Kings to the periphery for the most part, allowing Antti Niemi to see the puck.

Why Los Angeles lost: The Kings are struggling to score 5-on-5 and have too many passengers, which has resulted in coach Darryl Sutter mixing up his lines in an effort to find a spark. If it wasn’t for the performance of their goalie, L.A. would have lost this game by three or four goals.

Play of the game: None of the goals were five-bell beauties, so let’s give some love to the brawny side of the game. Brad Stuart catching Justin Williams looking down at the puck at his own blueline was as hard of a clean hit you’ll see in these playoffs.

Three Stars
1. Jonathan Quick: If he can see it, he can stop it. That’s basically the mode Quick is in right now. He turned aside 38 Shark shots in Game 3, including a remarkable post-to-post robbery of Andrew Desjardins. Even though the Kings lost, he was the game’s best.

2. Logan Couture: It’s no Bobby Baun, but Couture returned from what looked like a serious leg injury to pot the overtime-winner, a sweet wrister from the slot that no goalie could have stopped.

3. Brent Burns: When you watch him play in the offensive zone, you have to wonder what took coaches so long to move him back to forward…or why they ever made him a blueliner in the first place. As he’s been in most games since the switch, Burns was a beast both physically and in generating opportunities.

What’s next: It’s a real shame the officiating has become the biggest story in what has been well played, dramatic series between two talented and well coached teams. The Sharks bounced back after feeling they were jobbed by poor officiating at the end of Game 2. Will the Kings do likewise after suffering a similar fate in Game 3? Los Angeles must do a better job at making life difficult for Niemi. They only have to look at their opponents for good example of how it’s done. - Edward Fraser
 

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