CHICAGO — Two role players each came up with a big goal. The stars had a handful of key plays. The goalie made all the stops.
Even gruff coach Joel Quenneville had to like this one.
Johnny Oduya and Marcus Kruger scored in the third period, Corey Crawford made 20 saves and the Chicago Blackhawks beat the Detroit Red Wings, 4-1, in the opener of their second-round playoff series Wednesday night.
“Much better from our prior series,” Quenneville said. “I thought what we’re talking about in our team game was in place. Had some pace, had some speed, zone time, and I thought everybody contributed.”
In the wake of Chicago’s five-game victory over Minnesota in the first round, Quenneville talked about a higher level of intensity, and each of his biggest stars echoed his comments. The response was a dominant final two periods in the Blackhawks’ first game in the Western Conference semifinals since they won the Stanley Cup in 2010.
Marian Hossa had the opening goal in the first, and Patrick Sharp finished with an empty-netter and two assists to give him nine points in the postseason.
“I thought it was our best game of the playoffs, no question,” Sharp said.
Jimmy Howard had 38 stops in a terrific performance, but Detroit still lost to rival Chicago for the eighth straight time dating to last season.
“I think in the first it was pretty even, but then I think in the second and third they looked like they had a little more energy than we did,” Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg said. “It’s going to be nice to have a day off tomorrow and practice and then looking forward to Game 2.”
The series resumes on Saturday afternoon at the United Center.