By Stefan Kubus –
DETROIT – Just five days ago in Chicago, the Blackhawks shut out the Red Wings at the United Center during their first preseason meeting, 2-0.
While the Red Wings found the scoresheet this time around, the result wasn’t much different at Joe Louis Arena Sunday evening.
Led by Byron Froese’s two-goal effort and a solid outing from Corey Crawford in net, the Blackhawks once again trumped Detroit, this time by a score of 4-3. Tomas Tatar recorded a pair of goals for Detroit, while Gustav Nyquist assisted on both of them. Jonathan Ericsson tallied the other Detroit marker.
“We played really good hockey in the third period,” Tatar said. “We gave up some freebies at the start, so I think that decided the game.”
Tatar and Nyquist continue to show terrific chemistry playing together, as both hope to solidify their spots on the 2013-14 roster.
“We are really good friends off the ice and really good friends on the ice,” Tatar said. “We’ve known each other for a long time, we’ve played together in the minors and it’s just been fun to play with those guys.”
Babcock said he couldn’t ask anything else out of these two budding forwards.
“I thought Tatar has been really good and I thought Gus got better here as it’s gone on, which is important,” Babcock said. “Their job is to put as much pressure on the coach and general manager as they possibly can to be here. That’s all you can ask a kid to do, and they’re doing that.”
Unlike Saturday night against Boston and their last meeting against Chicago, Detroit managed to find a bit of offense Sunday night. And early, too, as Tatar wired home a nifty feed in front of Crawford that Nyquist dished from behind the net to make it 1-0, 7:29 into the game.
However, just minutes later, the Red Wings failed to clear a loose puck in traffic right in front of Howard. That allowed Froese to score to tie things up at one.
Late in the opening frame, defenseman Alexei Marchenko fumbled the puck at his own blue line on the breakout, allowing Joakim Nordstrom to walk in, pull a toe-drag move and beat Howard to put his Blackhawks up 2-1.
“You start on time, you get ahead and then you close out the game; that’s how hockey works,” coach Mike Babcock said. “Catchup hockey is losing hockey, let’s not kid ourselves, but we had a good push at the end. It was good to work on our 6-on-5. We had enough people in the game to work on that, so that was a positive for us.”
Things stood that way through 40 minutes, with Detroit holding a 20-16 shot advantage, yet producing no goals on the scoresheet.
Dearborn Heights native and former Saginaw Spirit standout Garret Ross made it 3-1 just 2:29 into the third period, firing a puck from the boards into the net, beating Howard on the short side as he was slow getting back to his post.
Just seconds later, Froese potted his second of the game after taking a hard pass from the corner right in the crease.
The Red Wings wouldn’t go away quietly, though. With about seven minutes to play in the third period and a power play to work with, Tatar tipped in his second goal of the game on a Nyquist shot to make it 4-2.
Ericsson scored at the 19:19 mark of the third to cut the Wings’ deficit in to one, but the Blackhawks didn’t surrender another goal.
The Wings continue preseason play on Wednesday, when they host the Pittsburgh Penguins at Joe Louis Arena. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.