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Blackhawks win, but still lose fifth seed to Detroit

1:53 AM, Apr 8, 2012   |    comments
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Detroit, MI (Sports Network) - Pavel Datsyuk's tying goal with 46.4 seconds to play in regulation kept alive Detroit's chances at home ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs, but only for a few minutes.

Patrick Kane scored the only goal of the shootout to give the Chicago Blackhawks a 3-2 win over the Red Wings in the regular-season finale for both playoff-bound teams at Joe Louis Arena.

Chicago (45-26-11) needed a regulation win to claim the fifth seed in the playoffs and nearly pulled it off, but will instead be the sixth seed with 101 points. The Blackhawks' will face the Pacific Division champion Phoenix Coyotes, who topped the Minnesota Wild on Saturday.

The Red Wings (48-28-6), meanwhile, will be the fifth seed with 102 points and will face Nashville in the first round. The Predators, though, will have home ice advantage in that Western Conference quarterfinal.

"It's great that we don't have to travel across the country," said Wings head coach Mike Babcock, noting that his club won't have to play one of the Pacific Division teams. "Every [playoff] matchup in the league is tough, so the less travel you have the better off you are. It'll be fun going down to [Nashville]. It's always exciting down there and we've played some good games down there."

Detroit needed a win and a Nashville loss later Saturday against Colorado to earn the fourth seed, and pulled netminder Jimmy Howard with more than a minute left in search of the tying goal.

The move paid off when Tomas Holmstrom made a deft cross-crease pass through his own legs to a wide open Datsyuk, who slammed the puck into the empty side of the cage for his 19th goal.

Chicago, needing a regulation win to claim the fifth seed, then pulled goaltender Corey Crawford in the closing seconds with the game tied, but could not convert and a thrilling overtime couldn't produce a winner.

Datsyuk was first in the shootout and tried a nifty move by slipping the puck through his own legs, but just missed the net wide. Kane was next and he also slid the puck through his legs before tapping it through Howard's pads.

Crawford then turned aside Jiri Hudler, and Todd Bertuzzi missed wide, giving Chicago the extra point.

Viktor Stalberg and Andrew Shaw scored for the Blackhawks, who went to shootouts in five of their last six games -- winning twice in the extra session that won't be featured in the playoffs. Patrick Sharp set up both goals in regulation and Crawford finished with 30 saves.

"We just wanted to win the game and do the right things, play the right way for the playoffs," said Crawford. "I thought we did that tonight."

Johan Franzen scored Detroit's first goal and Howard made 31 saves. The Red Wings lost their last final two games and dropped four of six to close the season.

Chicago failed to capitalize on a four-minute power play early in the contest, but grabbed the lead midway through the first period when Stalberg slipped the rebound of a left point shot from Sharp through Howard's pads for his 22nd goal.

Sharp, once more, made the key play on Chicago's next tally with a neat backhand pass from behind the goal line. Shaw was the recipient of the feed and he lifted a shot from the edge of the left circle over Howard's glove for his 12th goal with 2:40 left in the second period.

Detroit finally solved Crawford just over eight minutes into the third. Chicago defenseman Johnny Oduya tried to clear the puck around the boards from behind his own net, but Franzen was able to corral it and he fired a shot from a sharp angle in the low right circle that managed to squeeze past the netminder.

"We dug ourselves a little bit of a hole there in the first two periods, but we found a way to come back and save ourselves some air miles," Howard said.

Game Notes

Chicago finished 4-0-2 against Detroit this season...The Blackhawks were 0- for-6 on the power play and have scored just three times in their last 35 chances with the man-advantage...Detroit, meanwhile, has successfully killed off its last 25 shorthanded situations...The Blackhawks agreed to terms of a one-year contract extension with goaltender Ray Emery on Saturday.

The Sports Network

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