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Smith redeemed with game-winner

Defenseman fights through mistakes, paces Wings to Game 2 win

Saturday, 05.18.2013 / 6:11 PM ET / News
By Bill Roose  - Managing Editor | DetroitRedWings.com
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Smith redeemed with game-winner
  Red Wings defenseman Brendan Smith responses to his
  game-winner in Game 2. (Photo by Getty Images)

CHICAGO – Just when it looked like Brendan Smith was going to be boiled, cooked, and tossed onto the barbeque for his first-period indiscretion, the Red Wings’ rookie defenseman bounced back to atone for his mistake that led to a Blackhawks’ goal.

“You’re always looking to redeem yourself after something like that,” Smith said. “Everybody is so good right now that you’ve got to wait for your chances. Fortunately, I was able to slide right into that position.”

Smith’s second-period goal was the perfect remedy for a young defenseman – who fair or unfairly – had come under an avalanche of scrutiny for his play in the first four periods of the Western Conference semifinals. He was the butt of much criticism following the Wings’ series-opening loss at the United Center on Wednesday, and it looked like he might be again on Saturday.

The Wings paid for Smtih’s aggressiveness when he tried to intercept a stretch pass at center ice. Like a cornerback jumping a passing route in football, Smith tried to intercept a Michal Handzus stretch pass to Patrick Sharp. Smith tripped and allowed the Blackhawks to complete their scoring play moments later when Patrick Kane scored his first goal of the postseason.

The long touchdown pass sent Sharp into the Detroit zone pretty much unscathed. From there, Kane electrified the home crowd with his 21st career playoff goal.

Defenseman Kyle Quincey defended the aggressive play made by his defensive partner saying, “You take what they give you, and that play was perfect for his skating ability. I always tell him to jump. I like to see him skate so he finally listened to me I guess.”

Smith added: “It seems like when Kane scored and (Sharp) out-battled me for that puck, it was so quick, so fast and it ends up in the back of our net. These things I’ve got to learn and make sure they don’t have to happen in the next games.”

However, Smith didn’t let his bad first-period play stay with him too long.

Zetterberg set up Smith’s goal, which gave the Red Wings a 2-1 lead, their first lead of the series. The Wings’ captain out-raced Niklas Hjalmarsson to the puck deep in the Blackhawks’ zone, and once the defenseman fell, Zetterberg managed to cut in along the goal line. Clearly, the Blackhawks were more concerned with the dangerous Zetterberg, who drew in the defense before sliding a pass between Duncan Keith’s legs to Smith, who cruised in alone from the right point.

“It’s huge for my confidence and just for our team because it was such a big game,” Smith said. “I’ve always thought that Game 2 is huge, but I had somethings to work on from last game and there’s still a lot of things that I have to work on. But hockey is a weird game and sometimes the bounces go your way.”

The Wings had a chance to make it a two-goal lead in the waning seconds of the period when they got a lucky bounce. As a Blackhawks’ defenseman tried to clear the zone, the puck hit a metal stanchion before ricocheting in front of the net where goallie Corey Crawford was forced to make a big save on Justin Abdelkader’s shot from the low shot with 3.8 seconds left.

The Red Wings clearly had more jump in Game 2 than they had in Game 1 when they were out-shot 42-21 in a 4-1 loss. Through 40-minutes Saturday, the Wings held a 20-13 edge in shots. They finished with a 30-20 advantage.

Games 3 and 4 of the series will be Monday and Thursday at Joe Louis Arena with game times set at 7:30 p.m. EDT and 8 p.m., respectively. The series will return to Chicago for Game 5 next Saturday, though a time has not been set.

SNUFFED OUT: Crawford made a tremendous stop on Daniel Cleary to preserve a 1-1 tie with 9:13 left in the second period. The Blackhawks’ goalie made the initial save on Zetterberg’s shot from the low slot, but Crawford couldn’t prevent the rebound from going to Cleary on the left side of the net. Cleary ripped a shot that was headed to the back of the net, but Crawford, who was on his side, flashed his left catching glove up in time to snag the puck out of the air.

Fourth line center Cory Emmerton also had a glorious opportunity on the Red Wings’ first penalty kill of the game. With under eight-minutes to go in the first period, Blackhawks defenseman Nick Leddy lost an edge near the Chicago bench as he skated the puck out of his end. Emmerton cruised in for the loose puck and fired a shot from the left wing that was stopped by Crawford

Minutes later, on the Wings’ first power-play opportunity, Pavel Datsyuk hit the left post that would have tied the game. Datsyuk had three shots in Saturday’s win after going without a single shot in Game 1.

STRETCHING IT: Johan Franzen gave the Red Wings a 3-1 lead at 7:19 of the third period. The play was made possible by a perfect stretch pass from Jonathan Ericsson at  his own blue line that sent the Mule in alone on Crawford. It was the Wings’ first shot of the period, and Franzen's fourth goal of the playoffs, his first at even-strength.

Valtteri Filppula finished the scoring for the Wings, collecting his second goal of the playoffs.

THREE STARS: 3, Niklas Kronwall, DET (1 assist); Henrik Zetterberg, DET (2 assists); 1, Damien Brunner, DET (1 goal).

Follow Bill Roose on Twitter | @Bill_Roose

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EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 WSH 53 40 9 4 175 120 84
2 FLA 55 32 17 6 153 127 70
3 NYR 55 31 18 6 157 140 68
4 DET 55 28 18 9 138 134 65
5 NYI 53 29 18 6 150 131 64
6 TBL 54 30 20 4 144 130 64
7 BOS 54 29 19 6 159 148 64
8 PIT 54 28 19 7 139 136 63
9 NJD 56 28 21 7 124 124 63
10 PHI 54 24 20 10 128 140 58
11 CAR 55 24 21 10 131 143 58
12 MTL 56 27 25 4 151 151 58
13 OTT 56 25 25 6 157 173 56
14 BUF 56 22 28 6 131 155 50
15 CBJ 56 22 28 6 140 173 50
16 TOR 53 19 25 9 122 149 47

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
D. Larkin 54 18 20 25 38
H. Zetterberg 55 10 28 5 38
T. Tatar 54 16 17 -1 33
G. Nyquist 55 14 16 -1 30
P. Datsyuk 40 9 21 14 30
J. Abdelkader 55 14 15 -2 29
M. Green 47 4 17 -7 21
N. Kronwall 45 3 14 -10 17
B. Richards 41 5 11 6 16
D. DeKeyser 51 7 8 12 15
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
P. Mrazek 21 10 5 .933 1.94
J. Howard 7 8 4 .904 2.89