Gustav Nyquist and Drew Miller scored 31 seconds apart midway through a previously scoreless game, helping the Red Wings beat the Blackhawks 3-1 on Monday night for a 2-1 lead in their Western Conference second-round series.
The top-seeded Blackhawks refused to roll over, pulling to 2-1 on Patrick Kane's goal 4:35 into the third period, and were a judgment call away from tying it about a minute later. Andrew Shaw's goal, however, was waved off because he was in the crease, the officials ruling he interfered with Detroit goaltender Jimmy Howard.
Chicago coach Joel Quenneville disagreed.
"He didn't touch the goalie," Quenneville said simply.
Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford couldn't touch Pavel Datsyuk's shot 6:46 into the final period, which had already come back out of the net before Crawford saw it.
Howard stopped 39 shots, while Crawford finished with 27 saves.
As good as seventh-seeded Detroit looked — scoring six straight goals to earn momentum in the series — its hard-driving coach isn't ready to celebrate.
"We haven't done anything yet," Mike Babcock said.
If the Red Wings keep playing this way, though, the Blackhawks will have a long offseason to wonder what went wrong in a season that looked as though it was going to be special.
On Thursday night at home in Game 4, Detroit has a shot to put Chicago on the brink of elimination.
"A lot of guys in this room have been in tough positions before in the playoffs and that's never stopped us," Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews said. "We know this is a long series and we're going to be fighting until the end."
Chicago's chances will improve if Toews can end his goal-scoring drought. Toews doesn't have a goal in nine playoff games, dating to last year, despite matching Patrick Kane with a team-high 23 goals in the 48-game, lockout-shortened season.
Toews did have a game-high seven shots in Game 3, but Howard and his back-checking, shot-blocking teammates wouldn't let him end his drought.
"If he keeps playing like that, it'll find a way to get in," Quenneville said.
Chicago has lost consecutive games for the first time in nearly two months. The Blackhawks began the season by setting an NHL record with at least a point in their first 24 games, ended it with a league-high 77 points and avoided any three-game losing streaks.
"The team is facing a little adversity and I am on a personal basis," Toews said. "Not going to let that stop us or me."
After a scoreless first period in a hot and steamy Joe Louis Arena, Detroit took a 2-0 lead with a pretty goal and a gritty one.
Nyquist patiently carried the puck from right to left and waited for defenseman Brent Seabrook and Crawford to sprawl out before shooting the puck into the open net.
"He's real good at hanging onto the puck," Babcock said.
Miller crashed the net to stuff the puck in after Patrick Eaves got to his own rebound to keep pressure on Crawford. Blackhawks defenseman Michal Rozsival started the sequence with a turnover in the Chicago zone.
It was a sixth straight unanswered goal in the series for the Red Wings, who lost the series opener 4-1 and gave up the first goal of Game 2 before going on to even the series with a 4-1 victory.
"They're a real good team and they're going to carry the play at times," Babcock said. "We're a good team and we're going to carry the play at times."
NOTES: Chicago hasn't given up a power-play goal in its first eight playoff games, matching the 2001 St. Louis Blues for the longest such streak since 1988, according to STATS. ... Babcock won his 77th postseason game, matching Quenneville for the most among active coaches. They both trail Pat Burns by one for eighth place on the NHL's all-time list. ... The Blackhawks put Viktor Stalberg back in the lineup and scratched Daniel Carcillo. Stalberg got shook up early in the game, missing a check and going head first into the boards.