The first period was the most competitive one of the game, as both teams lit the lamp and generally played spirited hockey. At 9:03, former Red Wing Marian Hossa broke a scoreless tie with a power play goal after the Hawks for the most part controlled the play. One minute and 54 seconds later, Damien Brunner tied things up, jamming one past Corey Crawford. The teams looked pretty equal for the rest of the frame, and it went to intermission 1-1.
The second period came along and the Wings looked like a completely different team. There were turnovers and Chicago opportunities out the wazoo; the Hawks outshot Detroit 17-5 in the second. But Jimmy Howard, in a nearly heroic effort, was there to stop each Chicago advance and keep it 1-1 heading into the third.
For the first 8:01 of the third, the Red Wings looked like a team just one shot from completely falling apart. They were once again holding on for dear life against a clearly-better Blackhawks team. At 8:02 of the third, Johnny Oduya buried a third-chance opportunity to break the deadlock, and three minutes later Marcus Kruger made it 3-1. A Patrick Sharp empty-netter in the final minute provided the 4-1 final.
That sucked. The Blackhawks were what we all feared in this one: a scary-deep, scary-talented team that can forecheck, backcheck, and score with regularity. Quite frankly, the Red Wings looked like a frustrated and overwhelmed hockey team–much like the Blackhawks looked in 2009 when they met the Wings in the conference finals. The Wings were outshot 42-21 and went 0-for-3 on the power play. After a fourth consecutive Game 1 loss, Game 2, once again, becomes a must-win. I expect the Wings to play better because they really can’t play worse.