Kamis, 23 Mei 2013

Red Wings Howard push Blackhawks to the brink

Detroit Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard finished the game with 28 saves for the shutout.(Photo Rick Osentoski USA TODAY Sports)

DETROIT Goaltender Jimmy Howard has reached the point in his NHL career when a stellar performance isn't as newsworthy as it once was.

Howard made 28 saves to power the Detroit Red Wings to a 2 0 win that puts the top seeded Chicago Blackhawks on the verge of elimination and neither his teammates nor his coach felt obligated to haul out their best superlatives to describe his level of play.

Howie played well Detroit coach Mike Babcock said. And we pay him to do that and we expect him to do that.

The Red Wings recently gave Howard a six year $31.75 million contract extension because he consistently makes it his business to give his team a chance to win games and lately business has been real good.

BOX SCORE Red Wings 2 Blackhawks 0

With Howard limiting Chicago to just two goals over the past three games the Red Wings will take a 3 1 lead into Game 5 of the best of seven Western Conference semifinal Saturday in Chicago.

He's kind of been in a groove for a while now Babcock said.

His biggest save of the game came on a 2 on 1 break midway through the third period when Michael Frolik set up Dave Bolland for a prime scoring chance. Howard stretched his leg out to block Bolland's redirection to preserve Detroit's 1 0 lead.

Babcock did use the words unbelievable and unreal to describe that stop.

He's been unbelievable all season said Detroit defenseman Jakub Kindl. He's been our best player.

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Howard said he is merely trying to be calm.

(I'm) trying not to overdo it out there he said.

One of Howard's most significant areas of improvement is his rebound control. The puck seems to deaden when it hits his body. Pucks fall right to his feet where he pounces on them.

(Detroit) has played well defensively Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said. But it just seems that he has built that momentum up by himself.'

The Blackhawks who started the season 21 0 3 seem stunned although not totally defeated by the turn of events.

We've got to find a way to sustain some momentum and get some pucks to the net said Patrick Sharp who was stopped by Howard on a breakaway. 'And we have to raise our intensity level. We've got to outwork their four guys and right now we're not doing that and not coming up with a whole lot on the power play.'

Chicago captain Jonathan Toews who has yet to score a goal in the playoffs took three consecutive penalties in the second period. Kindl scored on the second one beating Chicago goalie Corey Crawford with a shot from the point.

The Blackhawks had killed off 30 consecutive penalties in this postseason before Kindl scored.

I'm not going to say anything about the officiating Toews said. Obviously I disagree with the calls but its in the heat of the moment. They see what they see. I've got to be careful of my stick. That doesn't help my team but I still think we played hard through it found a way to stay in the game killed off two big penalties.

Detroit killed off three Chicago power plays including one with less than five minutes to go in the game.

I think we've been able to do some good things Detroit defenseman Niklas Kronwall said. Disrupt them up ice and make it hard for them. We know that they're so talented all they need is once chance and the puck's in. We've been able to do a good job there I think. Millsie (Drew Miller) getting back in the lineup's been huge for us.


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