The third period began with the Blackhawks holding a 23-12 shot advantage thanks to a dominant second period. The game was tied, 1-1, after 40 minutes thanks almost exclusively to the stellar play of Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard. Howard was solid early in the third period as well, and stoned Dave Bolland on this breakaway to keep the game tied:
But Howard couldn't fight off the pressure the Blackhawks were delivering all night long, and was eventually beaten by Johnny Oduya eight minutes into the final period:
The Blackhawks would get another goal from a depth forward, this time Marcus Kruger, on this wild play later in the period:
Detroit's best chance in the third period came with just over two minutes left to play in the game, but Brent Seabrook was quick enough to prevent the sure goal:
The Blackhawks would win the game, 4-1, after Patrick Sharp added an empty net goal. Chicago had a 42-21 edge in shots for the game.
Let's check out the three big questions we were tracking in tonight's game:
Can the Blackhawks shake off the rust?
They seemed to do fine. The first period was fairly slow and even, with each team scoring once, but Chicago just seemed to get stronger as the night continued.
Will Jimmy Howard continue to sparkle?
Howard was the sole reason this game wasn't a blowout at the end of the second period, but the Blackhawks eventually managed to solve him in the third.
Can the Red Wings handle the Blackhawks' depth?
It doesn't look good for the Red Wings. The Blackhawks were getting shots, scoring chances, and goals from all over their forward lines in the game, and if Detroit hopes to be competitive in this series, they'll have to find an answer for all Chicago's threats.
Game 2 of the series is Saturday in Chicago.