CHICAGO — All that tinkering with the power play, all the practice time and the tweaked combinations finally paid off for the Chicago Blackhawks when they needed it the most.
Jonathan Toews and Andrew Shaw scored with the man advantage in the second period, and the Blackhawks avoided elimination with a 4-1 victory over the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday night in Game 5 of the second-round playoff series.
Shaw added his third career playoff goal in the third as the Blackhawks stopped the Red Wings’ three-game winning streak by creating chaos in front of Jimmy Howard, who had shut down Chicago’s attack while moving Detroit to the brink of the Western Conference finals.
With the sellout crowd chanting “Ho-ward! Ho-ward!” in an attempt to shake him, the standout goalie made 41 saves in another solid performance. But the Blackhawks created enough quality chances that he simply couldn’t stop all of them.
“Good things come from shooting the puck,” Shaw said. “There’s rebounds, there’s loose pucks, and we had all guys converging to the net and we just kept picking them up and hemming them in there and tired them out and we were rewarded.”
Bryan Bickell scored the first goal of the game and Corey Crawford had 25 stops for Chicago, which managed only two goals during its first three-game losing streak of the season.
Daniel Cleary scored for the second straight game for Detroit, which will have another chance to close out the top-seeded Blackhawks in Game 6 on Monday night. That will be at home, too, where the Red Wings are 4-1 in this postseason.
Detroit trailed 1-0 before Cleary completed a strong rush during a 4-on-4 stretch in the second period, beating Crawford from a tough angle on the left side for his fourth goal of the postseason.
Back came the Blackhawks, who responded with two of their best power plays in weeks. Upset with how Chicago had been playing with the man advantage, Coach Joel Quenneville tried all sorts of combinations in practice to no avail.
He finally got what he wanted in Game 5.
First, Shaw had a perfect tip on Duncan Keith’s slap shot to make it 2-1 at 13 minutes 8 seconds. Then Justin Abdelkader received his second penalty, this one for cross checking, and Toews wristed a shot off Howard’s facemask and into the upper right corner.
It was Toews’s first playoff goal since April 21, 2012, at Phoenix, snapping a scoreless postseason drought of 10 games. It also came after he appeared frustrated while committing three penalties in the second period of Game 4.
The captain was mobbed by his teammates after he skated to the boards, and the crowd of 22,014 roared its approval.