By Chris Kuc, Chicago Tribune reporter
8:31 PM CDT, May 18, 2013
There were times during their first-round series against the Wild when the Blackhawks weren't at their best.
Despite those moments, the Hawks cruised past their under-manned foe in five games.
Memo to the Hawks: The Red Wings aren't the Wild.
Looking sluggish and slow, the Hawks fell to the Wings 4-1 in Game 2 of the Western Conference semifinals Saturday at the United Center. The role-reversal from the first game resulted in the best-of-seven series being deadlocked 1-1 with Game 3 on Monday night in Detroit.
"We knew they were going to play much better than they did in Game 1," Hawks captain Jonathan Toews said. "Obviously, we didn't quite match the effort.
"We know we weren't good enough to win. We made a few mistakes on the rush, giving up pucks in the wrong areas. Last game we played smart defensively holding onto the puck and making plays in their zone. We kept it out of the dangerous areas and we didn't necessarily do that (Saturday)."
Four Wings scored and Jimmy Howard was strong in goal as the Wings seized home-ice advantage in the series. Brendan Smith, Damien Brunner, Valtteri Filppula and Johan Franzen all beat Hawks netminder Corey Crawford in the rally from a 1-0 deficit.
Patrick Kane got the Hawks off on the right track with a first-period score but that was all the offense they could muster as the Wings came out on top in puck battles all afternoon.
"Maybe after the first game we thought it was going to be an easy series or we had a lot of confidence in here," Kane said in the quiet postgame dressing room. "They're a good team and they have a lot of players who want to battle and improve themselves even more than they have already. By no means is it going to be an easy series or a cakewalk."
The Wings limited the Hawks to 20 shots on goal — and just six more that missed the net — while sending 30 toward Crawford. The Wings also blocked 15 shots as they didn't allow the Hawks much space with which to work.
"This series is a long ways from over," Howard said. "It was a totally different game (Saturday). It seemed like we were able to get in on top of their 'D' and get our game plan going. After the first period in Game 1 they were all over us. Game 3, (it's going to be) whoever executes more and wants the puck more."
The series now shifts to Joe Louis Arena, where the Hawks won both regular-season games by a combined score of 9-2.
"We know exactly what we need to improve on and we need to do it right away," Toews said. "There's no time to waste in this series. We know going into their building it's going to be even more difficult than it was (Saturday). We'll turn the page and make sure we're better."
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