Blackhawks' loss to Red Wings signals fading playoff hopes

Tribune staff reporter

The Blackhawks are running out of season.

The knowledge that they again gave the NHL's top team a rough time just isn't enough these days as the games click off the schedule with the Western Conference playoffs looming. The Hawks' 3-1 loss Tuesday night to the Detroit Red Wings before a crowd of 18,632 at Joe Louis Arena has them in a must-win position — as in, they must win nearly all of their 12 remaining games.

"We have to get a big run, no question," Hawks coach Denis Savard said after the defeat. "We probably need to win nine. That's too much to ask right now, so we have to look at one game at a time and start [Wednesday night against Carolina]. We have three [more] games this week, and we probably need to win all three or at least two out of three for sure, or get five out of six points and go from there."

Rookie goaltender Corey Crawford did all he could to halt the Wings as he made 44 saves and gave the Hawks a chance to topple Detroit for the fifth time in six games this season.

"They move it around pretty good," Crawford said of the Wings. "I was just trying not to get out too far and get myself a chance if they go back-door. They didn't have too many rebound chances, so the [defensemen] did a good job. We had some chances to tie it, especially late. A tough one."

After the Red Wings took a 1-0 lead on Kirk Maltby's first-period goal, Rene Bourque scored the equalizer 2 minutes 9 seconds later when he fired in a rebound of a Cam Barker shot for his ninth goal of the season. Barker's shot from the point hit Dave Bolland's skate and ricocheted to Bourque, who fired a one-timer past Detroit goalie Chris Osgood to make it 1-1.

"We needed to win that game," Bourque said. "It's going to make it that much harder for us to get in now. We had quite a few chances in the last five minutes. I thought Osgood played awesome. He made some huge saves for them, but we had our chances to get a couple. No matter how hard we play, if we don't get those two points our effort wasn't good enough."

The Hawks had an opportunity to take the lead midway through the second period. Robert Lang was awarded a penalty shot after Brad Stuart hooked him as he was heading for the Wings goal. But Osgood, who made 19 saves, stopped the veteran center's attempted wrist shot. Detroit regained the lead later in the second when a loose puck found Pavel Datsyuk between the circles and he beat Crawford with a wrist shot.

Johan Franzen scored an empty-net goal in the waning seconds.

"You can't give up points like that," Hawks defenseman Brent Seabrook said. "Their second goal was a bad break in our own zone, a tipped pass right on Datsyuk's stick. That's the wrong guy to give it up to in the slot. It's just a bad break hurt us again, but we can't dwell on that."

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