The top-seeded Chicago Blackhawks will try to extend their lead in the Western Conference semifinals on Saturday when they host the Detroit Red Wings in Game 2 at United Center.
Chicago, winners of this season's Presidents' Trophy, started Wednesday's Game 1 slowly, but scored three times in the third period en route to a 4-1 victory. The Blackhawks, who beat Minnesota in five games in Round 1, are in the conference semifinals for the first time since winning a Stanley Cup in 2010.
Patrick Sharp posted a goal and two assists, while Marcus Kruger and Marian Hossa each scored once for the Blackhawks, who have won eight straight against the Red Wings, including all four meetings during the 2013 regular season.
Corey Crawford stopped 20-of-21 shots for Chicago, which was forced to overtime before beating eighth-seeded Minnesota in Game 1 during the conference quarterfinals. The Blackhawks also lost Game 3 in overtime in the first round.
"Much better from our prior series," Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said of his team's play in Game 1 against Detroit. "I thought what we're talking about in our team game was in place. Had some pace, had some speed, zone time, and I thought everybody contributed."
Chicago killed off all three Detroit power plays and has not allowed a power- play goal in 20 opportunities this postseason.
Johnny Oduya's go-ahead goal just over eight minutes into the third sparked Chicago's game-winning final period on Wednesday. With plenty of room to work, Oduya made his way just inside the circles before ripping a wrister past Red Wings goaltender Jimmy Howard for a 2-1 lead at 8:02.
Chicago doubled its edge under 3 1/2 minutes later when Dan Carcillo hustled to get to a chip-in behind the Detroit net and poked the puck into the slot, where Kruger recovered it before flipping a backhander into the back of net to make it 3-1 at 11:23.
The Red Wings put together a flurry with under three minutes left, but Damien Brunner's backhand attempt off a rebound rang off the crossbar and was swept away by Chicago defenseman Brent Seabrook to keep the margin at two.
Sharp then potted an empty-netter with 49 seconds left to end Detroit's comeback bid.
"They were better than us," Detroit coach Mike Babcock admitted. "The score tonight was more than fair as far as I'm concerned. They were better."
Brunner recorded the lone Detroit goal, while Howard posted 38 saves for the seventh-seeded Red Wings, who upset the Pacific Division champion Anaheim Ducks in seven games during the conference quarterfinals.
Detroit forward Mikael Samuelsson suffered an undisclosed injury in practice on Tuesday and missed Game 1. He is questionable for Saturday's rematch.
The Blackhawks are 4-0 on home ice in these playoffs after going 18-3-3 at the United Center during the regular season. Detroit, which will host Game 3 on Monday, was 11-9-4 as the guest in the regular season and is 2-3 on the road in the playoffs.
These Central Division and Original Six foes also have met 15 times in the playoffs and Chicago has taken eight of those series. However, Detroit has claimed the last two postseason encounters, including a five-game series win when the franchise's last met in the playoffs in the 2009 Western Conference finals.