After an epic seven-game series in the playoffs last season, many wondered how intense games between the Red Wings and Blackhawks would be with the longtime bitter rivals in different conferences.
Wednesday night at Joe Louis Arena, fans of both teams got their answer.
Despite playing without several regular players in their lineup, the Red Wings went toe-to-toe with the defending Stanley Cup Champions. But it would be the Wings who got the last laugh as they would prevail 5-4 over the Hawks after needing a six-round shootout to settle everything.
"I think that last playoff run kind of left a sour taste in our mouths, especially after they [went] on to win it," Justin Abdelkader said. "We enjoy playing them and I think our fans enjoy it just as much or maybe even more than we do. It was loud. It was probably the loudest it's been all season here. It felt good."
Early on, it appeared the Blackhawks, who had won nine out of their last ten at Joe Louis Arena, would run the Wings out of the building as they jumped out to a 2-0 lead thanks to goals from Marian Hossa at 8:41 and Andrew Shaw at 10:26.
Tomas Tatar got the Wings on the board 48 seconds later after he fired a wrister between Corey Crawford's legs off of a rebound for his 11th goal of the season.
Patrick Eaves tied the game at 17:40 after Abdelkader kicked the puck to him and he roofed a shot past Crawford for his second goal of the season.
The Blackhawks regained the lead at 5:03 of the second after Patrick Sharp scored on a power play with a slap shot that got past Jonas Gustavsson.
The Wings answered with two goals in the period. The first came from Kyle Quincey after he took a pass from Gustav Nyquist and beat Crawford with a slapper at 6:20 for his third goal of the season. Nyquist scored his seventh of the season off of a give-and-go from Henrik Zetterberg at 11:14 to put the Wings ahead 4-3.
Marcus Kruger tied the game at four with an unassisted goal at 5:12 of the third.
The Blackhawks came close to winning it in overtime, as Shaw was robbed by Gustavsson as time expired in the extra session.
Jonathan Toews scored in the shootout first after Tatar's attempt rang off the post.
Eaves then made a surprising appearance to start round two and beat Crawford with a similar shot that he had scored on in regulation. He had never scored in a shootout before.
Sharp then answered after beating Gustavsson glove side, but Todd Bertuzzi came through in round three after roofing a shot past Crawford.
Gustavsson then robbed Patrick Kane in round three, denied Hossa in round four, and stopped Kruger in round five.
Darren Helm beat Crawford in the sixth round before Gustavsson stopped Shaw to preserve the win.
"They're a great team and we played well right from the start," said Eaves. "We needed these two points worse than they [did]. It's huge for us and hopefully it will springboard us to something else."
Gustavsson finished with 31 saves in his first game since December.
- DET Henrik Zetterberg (3 assists)
- DET Darren Helm (SOW Goal)
- CHI Marian Hossa (Goal)
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