Jimmy Howard has been the grandmaster for the Red Wings over the past two games, allowing just two goals in the past two games.
The Blackhawks looked dominant in game 1, winning 4-1, but Detroit answered with a 4-1 win of their own. That win leveled the series at 1-1 before the teams headed back to Detroit on Monday.
The pace of each game has slowed from one to the next, turning into a game of entering the zone and working the puck rather than a wide-open chances and odd-man rushes. Game 3 continued the trend, until the third period.
The Blackhawks out-shot the Red Wings in the first period but were unable take a lead before the first intermission. Detroit came out of the dressing room with a new approach, taking a 2-0 lead thanks to goals from Gustav Nyquist and Drew Miller about thirty seconds apart from one another.
Patrick Kane cut the lead in half after a controversial no-call led to an odd-man rush halfway through the third period. That’s when the pace picked up. Pavel Datsyuk finished beautifully giving Detroit a 3-1 lead after Johan Franzen worked his way into the zone and left the puck for Russian star.
Normally, a slower-paced game would favor the Red Wings, but they have been skating with intensity and have looked equal to the task over the last two games.
Detroit went into clock-kill mode after the goal, which often comes back to bite the team that’s leading. But the Red Wings like to possess the puck and don’t mind slowing the game down. The Red Wings finished with a 3-1 win and an important 2-1 lead in the series.
Detroit’s gritty play in the third period showed Chicago they are willing to play whichever style the Blackhawks choose.
Game 4 on Thursday once again becomes the most important game of the series, as it almost always is. The Blackhawks will need a win if they hope to shift the home-ice advantage back in their favor, and the Wings would love to leave town needing only one more win to take the series.