This was not how the Chicago Blackhawks envisioned their playoff run.
Down 3-1 to the Detroit Red Wings, the team with just seven losses in the regular season is on the brink of elimination Saturday night in Game 5 of the Western Conference semifinals at the United Center.
A trip back home might be just what the Blackhawks need, since their 4-1 victory in Game 1 Chicago has scored two goals in the last three losses, including the 2-0 shutout in Game 4.
A power play goal by Red Wing Jakub Kindl, and the third playoff goal of Daniel Cleary’s post season were enough for Detroit to be on the verge of its first conference final berth since 2009. In that same series the Red Wings advanced by beating the Blackhawks in five games.
Detroit has found the hot goaltender that so many clubs crave in the post season in Jimmy Howard. The 29-year-old is arguably playing the best hockey of his career. In the last four games he’s made 129 saves to five goals allowed, and his .961 save percentage is well above is regular season and career marks.
Though he let up two goals in Game 3, Chicago net minder Corey Crawford still made a more than respectable 25 saves.
How Chicago re-finds the second best offense in the NHL this season remains to be seen. Patrick Kane has gone cold, as has center Jonathan Toews and 14-year veteran right wing Marian Hossa.
Toews was reported taken out of Game 2 for getting shoved around by the tougher Red Wing defense, and Hossa’s seven shots in the last three games have all gone wide. Toews was tied with Kane with 23 goals this season, and Hossa had 17.
The game begins at 8 p.m. Eastern, and will be broadcast by NBC, watch a live online stream at NBC Live Extra here.
Betting Odds: Chicago is favored by 1.5 goals.
Over/Under: 5 goals
Prediction: Boston 3-2