DETROIT, Mich (WXYZ) - Behind a stellar display in net from Jimmy Howard, the Detroit Red Wings defeated the Chicago Blackhawks 3-1 Monday night to take a 2-1 series lead in the Western Conference Semifinal.
After a scoreless first period, the Red Wings seized control of the contest in the second, scoring twice in a 31 second span.
Gustav Nyquist opened the scoring with a brilliant goal, holding onto the puck long enough on a breakaway to force Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford to commit before the shot was made. With Crawford on his knees, Nyquist unleashed a wrist shot that made the score 1-0.
On the next shift, Detroit forced a turnover and Corey Emmerton passed the puck to Patrick Eaves, whose shot on goal was fumbled by Crawford. The rebound was hammered home by Andrew Miller.
The Red Wings sat on the 2-0 lead into the third period, when Chicago finally got on the scoreboard. Seconds after Johan Franzen was checked hard into the boards behind the Red Wings goal by Niklas Hjalmarsson, Patrick Kane skated the length of the ice and put the puck through Howard's legs to draw the Blackhawks within one.
While the crowd chanted its disapproval, thinking a penalty should have been called on the check, the Blackhawks bench received an shot of energy.
Shortly after, Chicago had another goal waved off when referee Brad Watson ruled Andrew Shaw interfered with Howard in the crease prior to his shot clearing the goal line.
Pavel Datsyuk finished off the scoring on a laser beam shot from the left wing at the 6:46 mark of the third, electrifying the crowd and giving Detroit a two-goal cushion once again.
Howard finished the night with 39 saves, carrying his team to victory on a night when a solid performance in net is exactly what was needed.
Game Four is scheduled for Thursday night at Joe Louis Arena.