The Detroit Red Wings closed out their regular season with a 4-3 win over the Chicago Blackhawks Sunday afternoon, setting them up for a first round playoff rematch with the Phoenix Coyotes.
The Red Wings and Coyotes met in the 2010 Western Conference Semifinals, a series Detroit won in seven games. The Wings are the only team to have played Phoenix more than once in the postseason, having also met them in the 1998 Conference Semifinals, winning that series in six games.
Detroit’s win put the Blackhawks’ postseason in doubt, as it wasn’t until the Dallas Stars lost to the Minnesota Wild Sunday night that Chicago clinched the eighth spot in the Western Conference and a matchup with the Vancouver Canucks.
The Blackhawks came out strong against Detroit with their season on the line, pressuring Detroit early in the first but coming out of the period in a 0-0 tie despite two power plays.
Michael Frolik opened the game’s scoring at 5:18 of the second, snapping a shot from the high slot past Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard on a feed from Patrick Kane. The Red Wings had been prepared to clear the zone until Kane tripped up Brad Stuart in the corner and stole the puck.
Detroit responded just 1:38 later, when Tomas Holmstrom caught up with a loose puck in the neutral zone and jumped into the Chicago end, blasting a shot past Corey Crawford.
Pavel Datsyuk put the Wings in front 62 seconds after that. Datsyuk got the puck to Todd Bertuzzi along the right wing boards for a shot that was knocked down in front. Danny Cleary got to the loose puck and pushed it to Datsyuk in the right circle for a wrister past Crawford.
Drew Miller made it 3-1 at 1:56 of the third, driving to the net to tip the puck in when Valtteri Filppula threw it out front from the left corner.
Brent Seabrook pulled Chicago to back within a goal at 4:07, blasting a shot from the top of the right circle past Howard with former Red Wing Tomas Kopecky screening.
Cleary restored the two-goal lead at 8:11, flicking a shot from the slot past Crawford off of a feed from Bertuzzi.
With 8:38 remaining in regulation, Duncan Keith tracked down a rebound in front of the Detroit net and backhanded a shot over Howard to make it 4-3.
A late power play and an empty net for the extra attacker wouldn’t be enough for the Blackhawks as they failed to tie the game back up, outshooting Detroit 17-9 in the third period.
Chicago was held scoreless on three power play tries on the night, while Detroit did not get a chance with the extra attacker.
Howard finished the afternoon with 33 saves on 36 shots. Crawford stopped 27 of 31 chances.
The Red Wings are now off until they open their series against Phoenix on Wednesday.
Detroit was without Henrik Zetterberg, Niklas Kronwall and Patrick Eaves on Sunday. Kronwall and Eaves are expected to be available to start the playoffs but Zetterberg’s status is uncertain.