The Detroit Red Wings hung around for quite a while in Game 1 of their Western Conference Semifinal series with the Chicago Blackhawks on Wednesday night. The game was tied 1-1 for a long stretch of time, as late as eight minutes into the third period. That's when Patrick Sharp found a wide open Marian Hossa to make it 2-1. From there on, the Hawks got goals from Marcus Kruger and an empty-netter from Sharp, as they went on to take Game 1 of the best-of-seven by a final count of 4-1.
While the Red Wings were clearly not that far away from a victory in Game 1, given how long they stayed with Chicago, they also ended up losing by three after playing a bad third period. The Blackhawks stars are at least two lines deep, and all of them are meant to shine at the big moments. Of course, it was the second-tier guys like Johnny Oduya and Marcus Kruger who got it done instead. The Red Wings may be in some trouble if Chicago can get Toews and Kane free and onto the scoresheet.
Game 2 is on Saturday afternoon, and If the Red Wings can play better in their own end and get a couple more goals, they clearly have the goaltending fit to steal a game or two in this series. Jimmy Howard was absolutely excellent in Game 1, making 39 saves on 42 shots. Corey Crawford was not required to be nearly as good for the Blackhawks, making only 20 saves on 21 shots. Detroit needs to put up some goals for Howard, because he is quickly emerging as one of the better goalies in the sport, and one that can get you back into a series.
Can Detroit get their power play going?
The Red Wings went 0-for-3 in the series opener after going a decent 6-for-22 in the Western Conference Quarterfinals against Anaheim. Safe to say, they need to come up with at least a power play goal per game again if they're going to keep up with the 'Hawks. They have to take advantage of these situations or they might not have much of a chance to score a goal on Corey Crawford all afternoon.
Will Chicago get their game in gear earlier than they did in Game 1?
Like I mentioned earlier, Game 1 was tied until Johnny Oduya scored Chicago's second goal at 8:02 of the third period. Until then, despite the shot disparity, it was a rather even game. Everyone assumed that a breakaway stop by Jimmy Howard on Dave Bolland early in the third might be what could spring Detroit to victory. The Blackhawks need to start playing like the Blackhawks earlier in games. They can beat Detroit with their B-game -- Game 1 proved that -- but it's probably not a trend they want to start.
Can Jimmy Howard steal the Wings a game before they head back to Detroit?
This is something that's going to have to happen if the Red Wings even have a prayer in this series. Howard was excellent on Wednesday. Many of his 39 saves were of the ten-bell variety. He has to shut out the Blackhawks at some point in this series. He has to put the doubt in their minds that they cannot beat him and get in their heads. That's the only way the Red Wings are moving on.
Game Time: 1 p.m. ET
National TV: NBC, CBC