Red Wings blank Blackhawks, take 3-1 series lead

Jimmy Howard posted 28 saves for his second career playoff shutout and Detroit took a commanding lead in their Western Conference semifinal series against Chicago with a 2-0 win in Game 4.

Jakub Kindl scored the game-winner, while Daniel Cleary added an empty-netter as the Red Wings now hold a 3-1 lead in this best-of-seven set.

Detroit will have its first shot at advancing to the conference finals for the first time since 2009 on Saturday as Game 5 will take place in Chicago.

"He was real solid for us and gave us a great opportunity to win," said Detroit head coach Mike Babcock about Howard. "We weren't very good in the first period and I don't know why, but he was there for us and from that point on I think we played much better."

Corey Crawford gave up just one goal on 26 shots for the Blackhawks, who have dropped three straight games for the first time this season since taking a 4-1 victory in Game 1.

"I think everyone is a little angry," said Crawford. "I thought we played really well tonight, but we're not getting any bounces. We had a bunch off the post and that pretty much just sums it up for us the last couple of games. We're doing a lot of good things and we just can't give up."

Chicago had to go on the penalty kill when Jonathan Toews was sent to the box for a second time at 8:04 of the second, but that hadn't been a problem for them in the playoffs as the team had killed off all 30 shorthanded situations it had faced.

This time, though, was different as Carlo Colaiacovo sent the puck from the right point to the top of the left circle where Kindl blasted a shot past Crawford with just one second remaining on the Toews penalty to give Detroit a 1-0 lead.

Howard did his part at the other end with eight minutes left in the second as he stopped Michael Frolik on a rush play, while Crawford kept it a one-goal game as he stopped a Pavel Datsyuk bank-shot attempt from the left side before turning away Justin Abdelkader's follow-up on the rebound inside of five minutes to play in the second.

Howard only had to post six saves in the third period to finish off the shutout, but he made his best stop when he turned away a Dave Bolland redirect down low with 11 minutes left.

Michal Handzus hit the post a short time later, but Chicago had trouble generating opportunities over the next several minutes.

Brandon Saad was sprung on a short break and hooked by Kindl, leading to a power play with 4:45 to play. The Detroit penalty kill unit, though, did its job as it held Chicago to zero shots during the advantage.

The Blackhawks pulled Crawford from the net with under 90 seconds to play, but was unable to get any chances and Cleary sealed the win with his third of the playoffs.

"Guys have done a great job all series letting me get out and establish myself and try to make saves for the guys," said Howard.

It was a spirited first period with a total of 24 shots, but none got through as Crawford made 10 stops to Howard's 14.

Howard made a nice stop on a Patrick Kane shot off a 2-on-1 break three minutes in, while Crawford made saves on a Niklas Kronwall left point shot and a Cleary wrister in the slot later in the frame.

Just two minutes into the second Detroit caught a break as Nick Leddy's shot from the left circle beat Howard, but it rang off the post and stayed out.

Game Notes

Kindl's goal was his first-ever in the postseason ... Howard's other playoff shutout came in Game 4 against the Phoenix Coyotes during a quarterfinal matchup in 2010 ... Chicago went 0-for-3 on the power play ... This is the 16th meeting in the postseason between these Original Six teams. Chicago has taken eight of the previous matchups.