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Red Wings have Blackhawks on ropes
All the good news was delivered early.
When the Blackhawks and Red Wings hit the United Center ice for their pregame skate before Game 4 of the Western Conference finals Sunday afternoon, Martin Havlat was skating for the home team while Nicklas Lidstrom and Pavel Datsyuk weren't for the visitors.
After that nothing good happened for the Hawks as they were hammered 6-1 by the Wings in front of a crowd of 22,663 to fall behind 3-1 in the best-of-seven series.
With their backs against the wall, the Hawks will try and extend the series and their season in Game 5 Wednesday night at Joe Louis Arena.
Marian Hossa had two goals and an assist, Henrik Zetterberg two goals, Valtteri Filppula a goal and two assists and Brian Rafalski three assists as the Wings bombarded Hawks goaltender Cristobal Huet, who was playing for the injured Nikolai Khabibulin.
Hossa's short-handed goal midway through the opening period and Johan Franzen's tally in the final minute of the first gave the Wings a 2-0 lead and had the Hawks on the ropes. Virtually any chance of a comeback was halted early when the Hawks came out for the second period to discover defenseman Matt Walker had been given a roughing penalty at the end of the first and the Wings quickly capitalized with Filppula's score.
"We witnessed probably the worst call in the history of sports [Sunday] at the end of the [first] period there," Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "A nothing play and they scored and it was 3-0. They (officials) ruined a good hockey game. They absolutely destroyed what was going on on the ice.
"Our guys were battling and competing and doing what we have to do to get ourselves back into it. It was that call ... I've never seen anything like it."
The Hawks tried to mount a comeback when Jonathan Toews scored a power-play goal just under three minutes after Filppula's score, but Hossa scored 12 seconds later and Detroit added two more power-play goals.
The Wings were 3-for-8 with a man advantage after the Hawks were whistled for 16 penalties for 56 total minutes. The Hawks were 1-for-4 on the power play.
"It wasn't a very good game by any standards," Hawks winger Patrick Sharp said. "We have to find a way to stay out of the box. You can't give Detroit's power play too many opportunities. That hurt us. We gave their skill guys a pretty easy game playing on the power play all game long. They're going to burn you sooner or later."
Huet yielded five goals on 26 shots and was replaced by rookie Corey Crawford (six saves on seven shots faced) for the second half of the second period before returning to start the third.
Havlat returned to action after being knocked from Game 3 by a wicked hit from the Wings' Niklas Kronwall (two assists Sunday) and had one shot before leaving the game early in the second.
"Kronwall, in my opinion, had a real nice finished check on Havlat in the game before [and] they were busy making amends for that," Wings coach Mike Babcock said. "In the end, we ended up on the power play lots, which is beneficial for us."
Lidstrom and Datsyuk, two of the top players in the NHL, missed the game with lower-body injuries, but the Hawks weren't able to take advantage.
"Everything kind of went against us," Toews said. "Nothing flowed for us, nothing was easy. It felt like we were battling every play. Whether it was making a hit or checking a guy or making a play with the puck, it just didn't work."