After an exhausting seven-game series against the Pacific Division champion Anaheim Ducks in the first round, the seventh-seeded Detroit Red Wings ran out of gas in the third period of the opener of their Western Conference second-round matchup against the top-seeded Chicago Blackhawks.
Detroit had a full tank on Saturday with a 4-1 triumph, and it attempts to take a 2-1 series lead when it hosts the Presidents' Trophy-winning Blackhawks in Game 3 on Monday. The Red Wings stayed even with Chicago in Game 1 before their Original Six rival scored twice in a span of less than 3 1/2 minutes midway through the third and went on to victory.
Detroit trailed after one period on Saturday before netting two goals in each of the next two sessions to even the series. The Red Wings, who waited until the final day of the regular season to extend their streak to 22 consecutive playoff appearances, have a chance to take a commanding lead in the matchup before heading back to the Windy City for Game 5 on Saturday.
Detroit went 2-1 at home against Anaheim in the first round, while Chicago split its two games at Minnesota.
TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC, RDS
ABOUT THE BLACKHAWKS: Viktor Stalberg apparently has gotten himself out of Joel Quenneville's doghouse as the coach said the right wing is "likely playing" on Monday. Stalberg was a healthy scratch for the first two games of the series after appearing in all five contests against Minnesota in the first round.
"I thought he handled it well," Quenneville told the Chicago Tribune regarding Stalberg's benching. "He did what he had to do to keep himself ready."
The speedy Stalberg claims he won't change a thing about his approach to the game.
"I want to go out and play the same way I have all year," he told the Tribune. "Try to be hard and tough to play against and use my speed to create something out there."
Patrick Sharp extended his point streak to six games with an assist in Game 2.
ABOUT THE RED WINGS: Drew Miller returned from a broken finger Saturday and logged just over 12 minutes of ice time in his first game in nearly a month.
"I felt good," he told the Detroit Free Press. "I think it's one of those things, you feel comfortable going out there and you can't play with caution, you've just got to go out and play your game."
Defenseman Brendan Smith redeemed himself quite nicely in Game 2. After what many deemed a poor effort in the series opener, Smith had a rough start Saturday, making a mistake that led to Chicago's first-period goal. After Damien Brunner forged a tie, Smith beat Corey Crawford with 3:52 remaining in the second period for what proved to be the game-winning tally.
"I really didn't think that I played as badly as some people thought (in Game 1)," Smith told the Free Press.
The 24-year-old also received a vote of confidence from coach Mike Babcock, who said he thought Smith was "outstanding" on Saturday.
1. Chicago C Michal Handzus likely will be removed from the lineup to make room for Stalberg. Handzus, who has three assists in seven postseason games, sat out Sunday's practice even though Quenneville said he was "fine."
2. Detroit's victory in Game 2 ended its eight-game winless streak against its Central Division rival.
3. RW Patrick Kane scored the Blackhawks' lone goal Saturday. It was his first tally this postseason and second in his last 20 playoff games.