The Hawks are alive and kicking.
With an inspired effort from Toews, a suddenly resurgent power play and strong goaltending, the Hawks staved off elimination with a 4-1 victory over the Red Wings in Game 5 of the Western Conference semifinals Saturday night. The Hawks cut the Wings’ lead in the best-of-seven series to 3-2 with Game 6 Monday night at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit.
Toews ended his personal frustrations with his first goal of the playoffs and along with Andrew Shaw’s two scores, one from Bryan Bickell and stellar goaltending from Corey Crawford, the Hawks continued on to play on in the postseason.
Daniel Cleary scored for the Wings but it wasn’t nearly enough as the Hawks’ high-flying offense peppered net-minder Jimmy Howard, who suffered the loss.
The Hawks hit everything that moved at the onset of the game. Bickell drilled Joakim Andersson along the boards at center ice and a short time later Brent Seabrook leveled Damien Brunner behind the Hawks net.
The Wings weathered the storm of the roaring crowd and the Hawks’ physicality and gained some momentum on a power play during which they had four shots on goal. But Crawford was up to the task, including a nice stop when he flashed the left pad on a Jakub Kindl chance.
Not long after Patrick Kane skated around Henrik Zetterberg and created a strong scoring opportunity that Howard gloved, the Hawks broke through.
Bickell carried the puck into the Wings zone and sent a shot on Howard that the goalie saved. The rebound kicked to Kane and the goalie also stopped his shot. Bickell, who had cruised around the net into open ice, jumped on that rebound and fired it into the open net.
In the second, Howard made a terrific save on a point-blank shot from Brandon Saad. The save off a backhander kept the game close and the Wings knotted things a short time later. After Crawford made a save on a Zetterberg shot, Cleary scored off the rebound from a sharp angle.
The Hawks’ power play, which had failed in 12 previous opportunities, finally cashed in when Shaw redirected a long shot from Duncan Keith past Howard for a 2-1 edge.
Make that the Hawks’ suddenly effective power play as Toews made it two in a row with a man advantage 2 minutes, 39 seconds later. The captain took a pass from Marian Hossa, kicked the puck with his skate to his stick and then ripped a shot that bounced off Howard’s mask and ricocheted into the goal. It was Toews’ first goal of the postseason and established that the Hawks weren’t ready to hang up the skates for the summer.
In the third, Shaw scored his second of the night when he put in a wraparound shot off a Viktor Stalberg shot and the rout was on.
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