Blackhawks vs. Red Wings Game 4 recap: Jimmy Howard earns shutout, Detroit frustrates Jonathan Toews

Gregory Shamus

The Wings targeted Hawks captain Jonathan Toews all game, frustrating him and keeping him off the scoresheet.

Jimmy Howard made 27 saves in a shutout as the Detroit Red Wings frustrated the Chicago Blackhawks, particularly captain Jonathan Toews, in a 2-0 Game 4 victory that put the Wings ahead 3-1 in the series.

The first period was scoreless as both teams just missed on their opportunities, including several stretch passes by the Hawks that could not find a conversion past Howard.

For Detroit, this high backhand by Henrik Zetterberg was a good opportunity after he zipped by the Hawks defense, which drew a punishing response from Bryan Bickell:

Zetterberg_medium

But the story of the game was how the Red Wings got to Hawks captain Toews, who showed his frustration in an impressive run during the second period where he committed three consecutive penalties in a 5:34 span.

Toews' second penalty was controversial in his eyes, as it was Justin Abdelkader's own stick that came up and hit Abdelkater in the chin. Of course, it only did so because Toews slashed it upward as he swung at the puck.

Towes_medium

That penalty led to the Wings power play goal by Jakub Kindl:

Wingsg1_medium

By the time Toews took his third penalty, Chicago defenseman Brent Seabrook paid a visit to calm the Hawks captain.

The Red Wings generally blanketed Toews all night. Zetterberg stuck to him shift after shift, garnering Toews' ire and post-whistle slashes, and somehow taking just one penalty himself -- for hooking Toews, naturally.

But frustrating the Hawks captain was a full team approach, as demonstrated by the number of bodies focused on Toews on this would-be breakaway:

Toews_medium

Meanwhile, the Blackhawks' other lines could not compensate, and their power play came up short on three opportunities, including one late in the third period where they failed to get a single shot on goal.

Jimmy Howard kept the Red Wings ahead with a few big saves down the stretch. This acrobatic one, 10 minutes into the third period, may have been his best:

Jimmysave_medium

Daniel Cleary sealed things with an empty net goal at 19:21, meaning the Wings will head to Chicago with a chance to close out the series in Game 5 Saturday.

Before the game we considered three burning questions for this series. Here is what we learned about them from Game 4.

Is Jonathan Toews ever going to score again?

Some day, surely. But not tonight. As mentioned above, the Wings completely suffocated him. He did manage three shots on goal in 19:23 of ice time.

Does Corey Crawford have a performance in him that's better than Jimmy Howard?

Not on this night. The shots were 28-27 for Chicago, and Howard stopped every one. One can hardly blame Crawford for the lone Wings goal that beat him, however.

Who turns it around for Chicago?

Not Toews, and not Patrick Kane either in just 16:51 of ice time. Meanwhile, Patrick Sharp and Marian Hossa could not get anything going while centered by aging Michal Handzus. The Hawks have depth at forward, but it's not finding a way through the Wings defense.

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