for this game

'Hawks lose, but get help to make playoffs

Apr 11, 2011 - 6:11 AM
Chicago, IL (Sports Network) - Danny Cleary's goal in the third period proved to be the difference, as the Detroit Red Wings held on for a 4-3 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks in the regular-season finale for both at the United Center.

The defending Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks needed only a point to secure the final playoff berth still available in the Western Conference, and failed to get it.

However, Chicago still locked up the West's eighth seed after Minnesota defeated Dallas later Sunday. The Stars were two points behind and could have taken the spot with a win in regulation or overtime.

Now the Blackhawks will have a chance to defend their title, and will face top-seeded Vancouver in the first round, starting Wednesday at 10:00 p.m. (et) at Rogers Arena.

Detroit (47-25-10) was already locked into the third seed in the Western Conference and had nothing to play for, except pride and the chance to keep one of its staunch rivals out of the playoffs.

Cleary finished with a goal and an assist in the victory, while Tomas Holmstrom, Pavel Datsyuk and Drew Miller also scored.

Jimmy Howard made 33 saves for the Wings, who had lost two straight entering the contest, including a 4-2 setback at home against the Blackhawks on Friday, and wanted to head into their first-round matchup with Phoenix on a positive note. That postseason series begins Wednesday at 7:00 p.m. (et) at Joe Louis Arena.

"That's one of the things we talked about before the game, that this is our game leading up to the playoffs -- let's go out there and really put a strong effort in," Holmstrom said.

Needing only to force overtime to gain the valuable point that would put them into the playoffs on Sunday, the Blackhawks drew within one with 8:38 remaining when Duncan Keith scored on a rebound.

The Blackhawks continued to press for the equalizer and were given a power play with 2:58 remaining when Jonathan Ericsson went off for holding. They pulled goaltender Corey Crawford late in the advantage for a two-man skating edge, but could not find the back of the net despite constant pressure.

Keith had the last chance for Chicago as time ticked away. He was alone in front of Howard, but the puck rolled up his stick and he didn't even get a shot away.

Michael Frolik and Brent Seabrook also scored for Chicago (44-29-9), while Crawford stopped 27 shots.

After a spirited, but scoreless, first period that featured 10 shots for each team, the Blackhawks grabbed a 1-0 lead 5:18 into the second. Patrick Kane stole the puck in the left corner and fed pass to the slot for Frolik, who snapped a shot past Howard on the glove side for his 11th goal of the season.

Detroit struck back just 1:38 later. Chicago's Tomas Kopecky sent a pass from behind the Detroit net and the puck went back through the neutral zone with his teammates on a line change. Holmstrom wound up with the puck, skated into the Chicago zone and beat Crawford on the short side from the left circle.

The Red Wings then went in front 62 seconds later. After a Todd Bertuzzi shot was blocked in front of the crease, Cleary managed to slip the puck to Datsyuk in the left circle and he quickly fired a shot past Crawford for his 23rd goal.

Detroit increased its lead to 3-1 just 1:56 into the third. Crawford was drawn out of the net and Valtteri Filppula managed to send the puck into the crease for a streaking Miller, who banged it into the vacated cage for his 10th goal.

The Blackhawks answered just over two minutes later to pull within one, as Seabrook's blast from just above the right circle skirted past a screened Howard.

However, Detroit continued to be aggressive and regained a two-goal margin at the 8:11 mark when Cleary took a pass from Bertuzzi and lifted a shot from the inner edge of the left circle past Crawford on the stick side.

Game Notes

Detroit improved to 28-0-4 when leading after two periods, while Chicago dropped to 2-15-3 when trailing after 40 minutes...The Blackhawks still won the season series, 4-2-0...Chicago finished the season with a record of 24-17-0 at home...Detroit was 26-11-4 on the road.