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BLACKHAWKS at RED WINGS
(Detroit leads best-of-7 series, 3-2)
TV: NBCSN, CBC, RDS
Big story: After scoring two goals in three straight games to fall behind Detroit 3-1 in this Western Conference Semifinal series, Chicago staved off elimination in Game 5 Saturday with a convincing 4-1 win and looked more like the team that piled up 77 points in just 48 regular-season games.
Now the question is whether the Blackhawks can take their re-energized confidence and keep
applying pressure in waves Monday at Joe Louis Arena (8 p.m. ET). The Red Wings have a number of talented-but-inexperienced guys making their first real journey through the Stanley Cup Playoffs, but they also have a rock-solid veteran leadership core group that will have them ready to end this series before the Blackhawks can push it to a seventh game on Wednesday in Chicago.
Red Wings: They know that if it’s required, winning a seventh game on the road is possible after beating the Anaheim Ducks at Honda Center to close out their Western Conference Quarterfinal series. Still, the Red Wings would much prefer to end this series on Monday and make their next flight to one of two destinations in California for the start of the conference finals. There is no guarantee they could overcome the swell of momentum Chicago would have heading into a
deciding game on its home ice – even with a hot goalie (Jimmy Howard), a couple of talented youngsters (Damien Brunner, Gustav Nyqvist) and superstar forwards Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk.
“It's way harder on your psyche when you play well and you get thrashed,” Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “We weren't very good, period [in Game 5]. We skated better than in Game 1, but it was a lot like Game 1. They were good and we were watching."
Blackhawks: They’re saying all the right things, talking about focusing only on Monday’s game and taking it one shift at a time, but the Blackhawks’ have to be secretly thrilled at the prospect of forcing a Game 7 at the United Center. That would not only shift almost all of the pressure toward the Red Wings, but also set up one of the crazier nights in team history at United Center. The cavernous building already rocks and rolls when fans are juiced up, but a Game 7 National Anthem against Detroit might bring the decibel levels as close as they could possibly get to the old Chicago Stadium that was located just across Madison Street. If that’s not further motivation to win Game 6, the Blackhawks should probably go see a doctor to have their pulses checked.
“The pressure is on them to eliminate us,” rookie center Andrew Shaw said, a day after potting two goals in Game 5. “They kind of have our backs against the wall and we’re pushing back and that makes us a dangerous team. Everyone thinks Detroit’s going to take the series, and the pressure is kind of off us. We’ve just got to go out there and push back, and we did a heck of a job of it last night.”
Who's hot: Shaw scored a power play goal and added another one at even strength in the third period in Game 5 for the Blackhawks. Chicago’s Corey Crawford stopped 25 of 26 shots and has allowed one or fewer goals in six of his 10 starts this postseason, posting a 1.66 goals-against average. Danny Cleary scored his fourth goal of the postseason for the Red Wings.
Injury report: Mikael Samuelsson is day-to-day with an upper-body injury for the Red Wings, who are also without regular third-line center Darren Helm (back) and rookie defenseman Danny DeKeyser (fractured hand) for the series.