CHICAGO — In case they weren’t aware already, the Chicago Blackhawks now know they’re going to have to earn it if they want to get past Detroit.
The Red Wings hammered home that message on Saturday.
Damien Brunner and Brendan Smith scored in the second period and Detroit beat the Blackhawks 4-1 in Game 2 to even their Western Conference semifinal series.
It was a strong response by the Red Wings after Chicago handled them in the series opener, 4-1.
“We’ve got a real good club now,” Detroit coach Mike Babcock said. “And we haven’t been good all year. We’ve just gotten better.”
Their confidence got a big jolt after they knocked off the Presidents’ Trophy winners and avoided falling into a deep hole. It was another big win by a team that finished seventh in the conference, only to knock off second-seeded Anaheim in the first round.
Now, they’re even with a team that’s been rolling along all season and is eyeing its second Stanley Cup in four years.
“Both teams would be stupid if they thought they were going to come in here and either team win four straight,” Chicago’s Brent Seabrook said.
Just as the Blackhawks did in Game 1, Detroit took control in the second period and put the game away in the third. Now, the Red Wings have a chance to take the lead when this series between Original Six rivals shifts to Detroit for Game 3 on Monday.
“Overall, I think we had more energy,” the Red Wings’ Henrik Zetterberg said. “We did a lot of the little things better than we did in Game 1 and when we got our chances we were able to put the puck in the net.”
Patrick Kane gave Chicago a 1-0 lead late in the first, but did things ever change after that.
Brunner tied it when he deflected a wrist shot by Jakub Kindl early in the second, and Smith gave the Red Wings the lead when he scored off a feed from Zetterberg on a 3-on-1 late in the second.
Johan Franzen made it 3-1 in the third when he fired a rising shot past Crawford after a perfect pass from Jonathan Ericsson in the Detroit zone. And Valtteri Filppula closed out the scoring with 7:57 left in the game.
That was enough for Jimmy Howard, who stopped 19 shots.
Crawford made 26 saves for Chicago and played well at times even though things got out of hand down the stretch. When it was over, coach Joel Quenneville insisted his faith in his goalie hasn’t wavered.
“Not at all,” he said. “Across the board, we should all assume responsibility.”