Patrick Sharp scored a goal and assisted on Patrick Kane's game-winner late in the second period to lead the Chicago Blackhawks to a 2-1 victory over the Detroit Red Wings in a battle of Original Six teams Sunday afternoon at Joe Louis Arena.
The win was the third straight for the Blackhawks and gave them 79 points, as they pulled within four points of the idle Nashville Predators and the fifth spot in the Western Conference standings.
With the loss, the Red Wings stayed at 89 points, and missed an opportunity to move into a tie with the New York Rangers for the overall NHL lead and take the lead in the Western Conference over the Vancouver Canucks, who have 90 points.
Chicago was able to get on the board first with Detroit's Kyle Quincey in the penalty box when Marian Hossa sent a pass from the right wing circle to Sharp at the left point. The Blackhawks' winger had all the time in the world and wound up slowly, and his slap shot ricocheted off of Red Wing defenseman Niklas Kronwall's right skate and over Jimmy Howard's blocker side for Sharp's 25th goal of the season and a 1-0 Chicago lead just 3:17 into the opening frame.
Kronwall would get it back pretty quickly after he took a beauty of a pass from Darren Helm and beat Blackhawks starter Ray Emery high to the glove side through a screen for his 14th goal of the year at the 6:03 mark to knot the score at 1-1.
Detroit defender Brad Stuart earned a secondary assist on the Kronwall marker for the 300th point of his 12-year NHL career.
Joey MacDonald started the second period when Howard was forced to leave the game at the first intermission with a lower body injury. Howard had missed most of February with an injured finger before recently returning.
Both Emery and MacDonald would keep the opposition off the board until late in the middle stanza, when Sharp would again be instrumental in a Blackhawk goal. He gathered the puck behind the Red Wing cage and fed a pass to Kane in the slot. Kane made a forehand-backhand move to deke MacDonald to the ice, and slid the puck under the glove of the fallen netminder for his 16th goal of the season with only 1:19 remaining in the second frame.
While it has been a disappointing offensive season for Kane, he appears to be heating up at the right time, as the goal was his third in the last five contests.
Emery stopped all seven Detroit shots in the third and 23 of 24 for the game to win his third consecutive decision and move to 14-8-2 for the season.
The loss broke a seven-game winning streak for MacDonald as he dropped to 7-2-1 for the year, as he made 12 saves on 13 Chicago shots.
Detroit also lost defenseman Jakub Kindl, who left the game early in the first period -- after just two shifts -- with an upper body injury and did not return.