CHICAGO – Minus a few of their top offensive stars, the Chicago Blackhawks went with a dogged defensive approach on Friday night.
Tomas Kopecky scored two goals and injury-depleted Chicago beat the Detroit Red Wings 4-1 to end a three-game losing streak.
“I think we competed a little more than they did,” Kopecky said. “Our defence did a real good job after the first period.
“There were a couple of mistakes, but we covered up for each other. It was a great win and confidence boost for us.”
Patrick Sharp and Bryan Bickell also connected for the defending Stanley Cup champions, who improved to 9-9-0 at home. The Blackhawks already have one more regulation home loss than all of last season, when they were 29-8-4 at the United Center.
Chicago rookie Corey Crawford made 29 saves in his eighth start in the last 10 games.
He needed to make several timely stops, but the Blackhawks—who again played without high-scoring forwards Patrick Kane and Marian Hossa—provided solid defensive support for most of the game.
The Blackhawks also were disciplined and didn’t take a single penalty against their Central Division rivals. They scored a power-play goal—by Sharp—on their lone attempt as Detroit was assessed only one minor in the game.
“Tonight was as close to a perfect game as you can get,” Chicago defenceman Brent Seabrook said. “We feel real confident we can play that game all the time.”
“I’m happy with our game tonight,” Chicago coach Joel Quenneville added. “All areas were strong. We had more pace, assertiveness. We were active.”
Bickell, a rookie, has goals in three straight games and in five of his last six.
Patrick Eaves scored for the Red Wings, who lead the Western Conference with 43 points.
Detroit’s Jimmy Howard blocked 27 shots, and made several sharp saves.
“They played harder than we did for longer. We didn’t have enough guys on deck,” Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “Especially with their guys injured, they were more desperate and looked more desperate.”
And Babcock was perplexed that his team, which had arrived in Chicago on Thursday, didn’t play with more emotion despite ample preparation time.
“Shocked, actually, would be a good way to describe it,” he said. “I thought we were going to be better and have more guys playing better.”
Sharp opened the scoring during a power play just 1:04 in. He fired in his team-leading 18th goal through a screen and off the right post from the top of the slot.
Bickell made it 2-0 at 4:32, when he one-timed Fernando Pisani’s feed over Howard’s glove and into the upper right corner of the net.
Babcock called a timeout immediately after Bickell’s goal, and the move slowed the Blackhawks’ early surge.
Just 27 seconds later, Eaves cut it to 2-1 and the rest of the period was played evenly.
Eaves swept a backhander into a wide open net after Jonathan Ericsson’s shot from the right wing went wide of the goal, bounced of the back boards and landed in the left circle. Crawford turned to watch Ericsson’s attempt sail by, and was unable to recover in time.
Kopecky scored the only goal in the second, connecting midway through the period during a delayed Detroit penalty call to make it 3-1. He slipped past the Red Wings defence, took a pass from Brian Campbell and beat Howard after skating in alone.
Howard made several tough saves in the second to keep it close, including two on point-blank attempts by Jack Skille.
The Blackhawks spent much of the third period in their own zone, but were able to protect the lead. Kopecky completed the scoring with 1:04 left when he scored into an empty net.
Notes: Kane missed his fifth game with an injured left ankle. He practiced on Thursday, but left the session. Coach Joel Quenneville said Kane “might have aggravated” the condition. … Hossa sat out his eighth game with a lower body injury, but skated on Friday. … Chicago LW Viktor Stalberg missed his first game with an upper-body injury. … The Blackhawks signedveteran centre Ryan Johnson to a one-year contract on Friday and he played against Detroit. … The Blackhawks honoured Chicago native and former Norris Trophy winning defenceman Chris Chelios in a pregame ceremony. Chelios played nine seasons with the Blackhawks, but also spent 10 with Detroit and deflected boos from the crowd in his comments.