DETROIT – The Red Wings have put the Chicago Blackhawks on notice. The defending Stanley Cup champions are two wins away from getting back to the finals, and they aren’t even playing their best hockey.
Mikael Samuelsson scored 5:14 into overtime and Chris Osgood made 37 saves, lifting Detroit to a 3-2 win over the Blackhawks on Tuesday night and a 2-0 lead in the Western Conference finals.
Red Wings coach Mike Babcock was relieved to win a game in which his team was often outplayed. They played for the fourth time in a week, including two hard-fought games against the Anaheim Ducks.
“I don’t think we had any legs or any pop whatsoever,” Babcock said. “I thought we had good will and good determination, but no legs.”
The Blackhawks had nothing to show for their grit, desire and talent.
“It’s a brutal loss,” Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said.
The fourth-seeded Blackhawks, playing in their first conference final since 1995, now have the daunting task of beating the defending champions in four out of five games to advance.
“We want to beat them one game, the next one, and that’s our concern,” Quenneville said. “We should be excited about being back in the United Center to recapture some excitement and enthusiasm.”
Game 3 is Friday night in Chicago.
Detroit is trying to become the first defending champion to get back to the finals since New Jersey did in 2001. The Red Wings are the last team to repeat, winning the Cup in 1997 and ’98.
“This gives us a good start, but this is a team that is going to be tough to put away,” Babcock said.
Detroit won Game 2 on a 3-on-1 rush, taking advantage of Chicago defenceman Brian Campbell’s turnover near Detroit’s blue line.
Jiri Hudler raced up the left side with the puck, pushed it to his right toward Valtteri Filppula, whose drop pass set up Samuelsson for a shot from the slot that beat Blackhawks goalie Nikolai Khabibulin.
“I just kept skating with them,” Samuelsson said. “It was a great play.”
Campbell lamented his role.
“If I’d do the play over again, maybe, I’d put a little sauce on that,” he said. “But I’ve got to make that play.”
After losing 5-2 in the series opener, the young Blackhawks weren’t going to get routed again.
Jonathan Toews’ second goal of the game with 7:40 left in regulation pulled Chicago into a 2-2 tie. Toews gave Chicago the lead midway through the first period, but Brian Rafalski got Detroit even later in the frame. Dan Cleary made it 2-1 early in the second.
Khabibulin stopped 35 shots.
The first two goals were scored on power plays. The final two in regulation came at even strength.
Chicago had a two-man advantage in the first period and grabbed a 1-0 lead during the second half of the power play with 7:11 left in the period.
After Samuelsson left the penalty box, he failed to clear the puck out of his end. Toews was credited with a goal that went off the skate of Red Wings defenceman Jonathan Ericsson.
Detroit has given up a power-play goal in a franchise-record 11 straight playoff games. It is the NHL’s longest streak during one post-season in two decades.
The Red Wings tied it less than four minutes later. Rafalski’s shot sailed past teammate Marian Hossa’s stick and got by Khabibulin, who didn’t see the puck because Tomas Holmstrom was perched in front.
Cleary scored for the third straight game, following up on his two-goal performance in Game 1 and his series-clinching goal against Anaheim in the conference semifinals.
Toews bounced back with a strong game after he and teammate Patrick Kane were held without a point in Game 1. Kane had two of his three shots in the opening period Tuesday after not recording a shot on Sunday.
Quenneville split up the young stars, and Detroit focused on slowing down Kane after his active start.
“He looked like he was having way too much fun,” Babcock said. “I thought he should’ve gotten run over a few times.”
Notes: Pittsburgh allowed a power-play goal in 11 straight playoff games in 1989, according to STATS, LLC. … Toews has six goals in the playoffs. … Detroit captain Nicklas Lidstrom’s assist on Rafalski’s goal was his 116th in the playoffs, moving him ahead of Steve Yzerman and into first place on the Red Wings’ career list. He tied Larry Robinson for fourth among defenceman on the NHL list.