Monday, March 17, 2014
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Hossa returns, leads Blackhawks past Wings

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[March 17, 2014]  CHICAGO  Marian Hossa isn't as flashy as he once was. If anything, he is become more of a workman-type performer, content to be part of the one-for-all, all-for-one mindset that coach Joel Quenneville instilled in the Chicago Blackhawks.

Every so often, though, Hossa still grabs the spotlight, as he did Sunday. He scored a goal and registered two assists in his first game back after two weeks off due to injury, leading the Blackhawks to a 4-1 win over the Detroit Red Wings at the United Center.

Hossa was sidelined since suffering an upper-body injury during the March 1 Stadium Series game against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Soldier Field.

He looked rested, refreshed and eager to get back into the game Sunday, and he made his contributions count.

"I'm glad I can help a little bit," said Hossa, who pronounced himself 100 percent back from his injury. "I thought tonight everybody played pretty well. I was maybe a little shaky at the beginning, but we stuck with the system."

Hossa logged his 25th goal of the season at 6:33 of the third period, putting Chicago ahead 3-1, essentially putting the game out of reach of the struggling Red Wings.

The Blackhawks (39-15-14) snapped a two-game losing streak. Detroit (30-24-13) lost its third game in the four,, damaging its meek playoff hopes.


"I liked our game," said Quenneville, who was far from as complimentary after the Blackhawks' previous two games, losses to the Colorado Avalanche and the Nashville Predators. "I thought we played the right way, with way more intensity in the puck areas. We found a way to come up with way more loose pucks than in the prior two games."

Added Blackhawks right winger Ben Smith, who scored one of his team's goals, "We have some making up to do for the last few games that we've played. We're looking to use this as momentum and look forward to Tuesday in Philadelphia with a strong effort."

Because of Chicago's offensive shortcomings the recent games, Hossa's return was just the spark the Blackhawks needed.

"Everybody expects us to score five each game, but it's the best league in the world, and especially toward the end of the season, you're going to face great defensive teams," Hossa said. "Even our team is going to have a time to grind for the puck. You have to find a way maybe 1-0 or 2-1. If we have to do it, we'll be fine with it."

Chicago goalie Corey Crawford stopped 19 of Detroit's 20 shots, while Red Wings counterpart Jimmy Howard did not fare as well, stopping just 26 of Chicago's 30 shots.

"Once the game got to 3-1, it's not as good of spot for our team," Detroit coach Mike Babcock said. "We just can't chase. We don't have enough goals in our lineup to play like that. We were set up, and we let it slip away."

Neither team scored for nearly the first half of the game until Blackhawks defenseman Nick Leddy, on the power play, produced his seventh goal of the season at 8:44 of the second period.

Chicago is now 31-1-6 when scoring first this season.


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Detroit tied the game at 15:10 of the second period. Red Wings center Gustav Nyquist scored his 17th goal of the season on the power play, when his shot caromed off the skate of Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook and into Chicago's net.

The Blackhawks regained the lead at 2-1 with 14 seconds left in the second period on Smith's ninth goal of the season.

Due to a crushing Chicago defense, Detroit managed just seven shots on goal in the first period, five in the second and a feeble 20 for the game.

"I don't think we really started playing," Red Wings defenseman Niklas Kronwall said. "The first period, we were mostly watching each other. Whenever one guy got the puck, it felt like four guys were watching. We just have to be more on our toes than that. Tonight wasn't good enough."

After scoring a goal, Hossa factored in Chicago's final tally.

Blackhawks center and team captain Jonathan Toews added his 27th goal of the season at 17:50 of the third period with an assist by Hossa. The short-handed effort was Toews' eighth goal in seven games.

"Having Marian Hossa back for us was huge," Smith said. "He's so strong with the puck, is a great role model for all us young guys. We needed him back, and he came up big for us tonight."

It was the second and last regular-season game between the former division rivals. The NHL shifted Detroit to the Eastern Conference this season. While the teams split their two meetings this season, Detroit still holds a commanding series lead.


NOTES: The attendance was 22,128. ... Blackhawks LW Brandon Saad left the game before the third period with an undisclosed injury. ... Chicago plays the Flyers on Tuesday in Philadelphia before returning home Wednesday for a crucial matchup with the Central Division-leading St. Louis Blues. ... Detroit returns home to play the Toronto Maple Leafs on Tuesday and the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday. ... Chicago's Joel Quenneville needs one more win for 700 in his NHL head coaching career. ... The injury-plagued Red Wings have lost 311 man-games this season. Detroit might miss the postseason for the first time in 23 seasons, and injuries would be the primary reason.

[ 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.]

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