After this year, if and when the Blackhawks and Red Wings meet in the post season, the Stanley Cup will be on the line. As for now, it was merely a Western Conference semifinal matchup, with third-period scores from Johnny Oduya, Marcus Kruger and Patrick Sharp breaking things open for a 4-1 Blackhawks win and a 1-0 series lead.
A Marian Hossa power-play score followed by a Damien Brunner rebound blast less than two minutes later in the first period made it a 1-1 game, and that score held up well into the third period.
A forecheck by Patrick Kane got the puck trickling to Patrick Sharp, who fed a wide-open Oduya in the slot. The Hawks defenseman walked in and rifled a shot past Jimmy Howard that nicked the iron before crossing in for the 2-1 lead at the 8:02 mark.
Not long after, the Hawks’ fourth line provided some breathing room. Daniel Carcillo chased down a puck that was stuck in the goal netting and then poked it into the crease, where a scrum ensued. Kruger stood by as it trickled out and then flipped a backhander past Howard for a 3-1 lead at 11:23.
Sharp then netted an empty-net score at the 19:11 mark for the clincher.
Game 2 is Saturday afternoon.