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Third-period collapse forces a Game 7

Red Wings couldn't protect lead, fall 4-3 to Blackhawks

Tuesday, 05.28.2013 / 12:29 AM ET / Recap
By Bill Roose  - Managing Editor | DetroitRedWings.com
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Third-period collapse forces a Game 7
Brendan Smith battles Chicago forward Bryan Bickell in front of the Red Wings net Monday night at Joe Louis Arena. (Photo by Dave Reginek)

DETROIT – Nothing has come easy for the Red Wings this season, and it’s a trend that will continue if they are to advance to the Western Conference finals later this week.

The Wings, who needed a win in the season-finale just to qualify for the playoffs, and went to a Game 7 to get beyond the Anaheim Ducks in the first round, now face the daunting task off beating the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 7 on Wednesday at the United Center.

The Blackhawks capitalized on breakdowns by the Red Wings, who let up three third-period goals en route to a 4-3 loss in Game 6 of the conference semifinals at Joe Louis Arena on Monday night.

In a game that the Red Wings needed to secure a spot in the next round, blown coverages and giveaways in the third led to an apocalyptic collapse, sending the series back to Chicago.

“At times maybe we've relaxed a little too much. Maybe not so much tonight,” defenseman Niklas Kronwall said. “Especially against Anaheim early in that series when we were up a few goals and we thought the game was over and here they come. We were able to grind a few of those out anyway and get the win. Tonight, for some reason we started making some plays that we normally don't and got away from our game plan for a bit.”

The Red Wings have surrendered 20 third-period goals, the most by any team in the playoffs.

“Can’t explain it. Those are numbers that you guys point out,” defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo said. “We don’t really focus on that too much. At the end of the day you don’t want to give up goals in the third period and you want to protect leads and keep going. But don’t have an answer for it.”

The Red Wings took a 2-1 lead into the third on goals supplied by bottom-six forwards Patrick Eaves and Joakim Andersson. But the Blackhawks roared back, getting goals by Michal Handzus and Bryan Bickell after early-period miscues by the Wings in their own end.

“We made some young mistakes in the third period, and they ended up in our net,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “I thought we did lots of good things, but in the end, we didn’t handle it, whether it be pressure or execution or whatever it was in the third.”

Now the Red Wings are faced again with having to win another game at the United Center.

“We knew it was going to go deep, six or seven (games) at least,” Eaves said. “So we’re not surprised at where we’re at right now. I think it’s a great opportunity. It’s going to be a great atmosphere and we’ll go in there and play our game. It will be an exciting night.”

KNUCKLER: Andersson became the fifth Red Wings’ player to score his first career playoff goal this year when he gave Detroit a 2-1 lead midway through the second period.

With the puck on edge, Andersson fired a knuckleball in front of Brent Seabrook, who reached with his stick in an attempt to deflect the puck. However, the ’Hawks’ defenseman missed it, and goalie Corey Crawford misread it.

“It was a knuckle puck,” Andersson said, “it’s hard for the goalie to see those sometimes.”

Andersson, who has had to be more defensive-minded in his role as the third line center with wingers Damien Brunner and Gustav Nyquist, was dominant in the faceoff circle on Monday. The Swedish center won 8-of-9 draws in Game 6, and now owns a 60.6% winning percentage (40-for-66) during this series.

OVER-COMMITTED: Brandan Smith would love to have the first-minute of the third period back. The Red Wings’ defenseman over-pursued the puck behind the net, which allowed Niklas Hjalmarsson to find Handzus alone in front of the Red Wings’ crease.

Smith was responsible for the 36-year-old Handzus, and the rookie knew it by his reaction after the oldest player in the series tied the score at 2-2, beating Howard to his blocker side at 51-seconds of the period.

That was just the start of a three-goal third period for the Blackhawks, who have scored a playoff-best 17 third-period goals.

“Overall, I thought he made a lot of good plays out there,” said Kronwall, referring to Smith. “There were some mistakes as well. But that’s just part of the process. Smitty will be just fine. He’ll regroup like the rest of us. We win as a team, we lose as a team. That’s how we go.”

PENALTY SHOT: Colaiacovo was surprised as anyone that referee Chris Rooney called a penalty shot against him midway through the third period of a one-goal game.

“It’s unfortunate that it ended up the way it did, but I was just trying to make a play,” said Colaiacovo, who tried to prevent Blackhawks forward Michael Frolik from getting a shot off. “I thought I did a good job recovering. I haven't seen the play. I didn't think I hit him in the hand. I thought I hit him in his pants. It's an unfortunate calls.”

Frolik’s effort in the defensive zone sent him off to the race after he blocked Colaiacovo’s shot attempt from the left point. The puck caromed into the neutral zone where Frolik beat the Wings’ defenseman and rushed into the Wings’ zone. As Colaiacovo chased from behind, he tapped Frolik a few times on the hands with the last dislodging the puck from Frolik’s stick.

Frolik made an equally nice move on his goal – cruising in before identifying the top half of the net on Jimmy Howard’s glove side – to become the first player in league history to score two penalty shots in the playoffs.

“I was kind of surprised that I was the first one in history,” Frolik said. “It's a little bit special. I'm glad I can do that and I can be in the history and the club. … I have nothing to lose. I tried to just take a deep breath and focus and do the shot.”

Frolik scored his first playoff penalty-shot goal in Game 6 of the conference quarterfinals against Vancouver in 2011.

HISTORY LESSON: The Wings last squandered a 3-1 series lead in the opening round of the 1991 playoffs, the first year of their 22-year run, losing in seven to St. Louis.

Chicago hasn't lost a Game 7 at home since the 1971 Stanley Cup finals against Montreal. Since then, the Blackhawks have won three straight Game 7s on home ice – against Toronto in 1995; and St. Louis and the Minnesota North Stars, both in 1990.

The Red Wings did beat Chicago 4-2 in Game 7 of their 1964 semifinal series at Chicago Stadium. Overall, Chicago is 4-2 in Game 7s played on home ice.

THREE STARS: 3, Joakim Andersson, DET (1 goal); 2, Marian Hossa, CHI (1 goal, 1 assist); 1, Bryan Bickell, CHI (1 goal).

Follow Bill Roose on Twitter | @Bill_Roose

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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - WSH 82 56 18 8 252 193 120
2 x - PIT 82 48 26 8 245 203 104
3 y - FLA 82 47 26 9 239 203 103
4 x - NYR 82 46 27 9 236 217 101
5 x - NYI 82 45 27 10 232 216 100
6 x - TBL 82 46 31 5 227 201 97
7 x - PHI 82 41 27 14 214 218 96
8 x - DET 82 41 30 11 211 224 93
9 BOS 82 42 31 9 240 230 93
10 CAR 82 35 31 16 198 226 86
11 OTT 82 38 35 9 236 247 85
12 NJD 82 38 36 8 184 208 84
13 MTL 82 38 38 6 221 236 82
14 BUF 82 35 36 11 201 222 81
15 CBJ 82 34 40 8 219 252 76
16 TOR 82 29 42 11 198 246 69

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
H. Zetterberg 82 13 37 -15 50
D. Larkin 80 23 22 11 45
T. Tatar 81 21 24 4 45
G. Nyquist 82 17 26 -2 43
J. Abdelkader 82 19 23 -16 42
M. Green 74 7 28 -6 35
B. Richards 68 10 18 4 28
D. Helm 77 13 13 -2 26
N. Kronwall 64 3 23 -21 26
R. Sheahan 81 14 11 -8 25
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
P. Mrazek 27 16 6 .921 2.33
J. Howard 14 14 5 .906 2.80