CHICAGO, IL - MAY 25: Head coach of the Detroit Red Wings Mike Babcock yells out behind the bench as assistant coach Bill Peters stands to the left in Game Five of the Western Conference Semifinals against the Chicago Blackhawks during the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs at the United Center on May 25, 2013 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images)

Playoffs Tonight: Red Wings hope to match Blackhawks’ desperation

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The Los Angeles Kings and San Jose Sharks will need the full seven games to settle their differences. By the end of the night, we’ll find out if the same is true of Chicago and Detroit…

Detroit Red Wings host Chicago Blackhawks (8:00 p.m. ET, NBCSN/Live Extra)
Detroit leads series 3-2

Detroit limited Chicago to just two goals over three games to push the Blackhawks to the brink of elimination, but Chicago clicked with its season on the line in Game 5. Brent Seabrook bounced back from his recent struggles and logged a team-high 23:20 minutes of ice time, Jonathan Toews finally ended his goal scoring slump, and the Blackhawks’ secondary scorers also stepped up in a 4-1 victory.

“They were more determined and more desperate than us,” 29-year-old defenseman Jonathan Ericsson told the Detroit Free Press, “and that showed.”

“It’s hard to match that when their backs are against the wall and ours aren’t,” Daniel Cleary added. “But that’s something we have to be ready to do Monday, play like our backs are against the wall, which I like to think that they are.”

It shouldn’t be too hard for the Red Wings to convince themselves that this game is critical. After all, if they lose, then the deciding contest will be held at the United Center, where Chicago was 18-3-3 in the regular season and is 5-1 in the playoffs.

That being said, Detroit isn’t expected to make any lineup changes for Game 6. Defenseman Niklas Kronwall appeared to hurt his shoulder during Game 5, but he’s healthy enough to play, based on a Detroit News report.

The big difference will be that Detroit has last change tonight and will therefore have an easier time matching up Henrik Zetterberg with Toews. Zetterberg has been a thorn in the Blackhawks captain’s side for much of the series.

“It’s an ongoing challenge,” Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville conceded to the Chicago Sun-Times.

Will Toews get on a hot streak after finally scoring a goal in Game 5? Or will Zetterberg neutralize him? The answer might play a big role in determining the outcome of this game and the series.

Fights, hits and a blown kiss: Stars and Blues get nasty

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Things were getting out of hand between the Dallas Stars and St. Louis Blues on the scoreboard in an eventual 6-1 Blues win.

They were also getting a little raucous on the ice when it was clear that the Stars weren’t going to stage a comeback.

Jamie Benn was whistled for cross-checking Alex Pietrangelo, but it was Stephen Johns‘ hit from behind on Pietrangelo really revved up the violence.

Watch that hit and then the scrum that ensued in the video above, which included a scary display of an angry Ryan Reaves … who got creative at the end.

You may also want the kiss alone, so here it is:

Memo: rough stuff might not work so well against the Blues.

Read about that blowout here.

Blues bombard Stars, go up 2-1 in series

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Sometimes a final score is misleading. In the case of the St. Louis Blues’ 6-1 thrashing of the Dallas Stars, it might just be the start of the story.

Honestly, the most positive thing the Stars can say is “Well, at least it was just one game.”

It was one ugly game, however, and now the Blues hold a 2-1 series lead with a chance to really take control if they can win Game 4 at home.

The Blues dominated just about every category on Tuesday, firing more shots on goal, enjoying better special teams play and throwing more hits. They even blocked a higher number of shots, which often isn’t the case for the squad that carries play.

This leaves the Stars picking up the pieces, especially when it comes to their work in their own end.

Do you put greater blame on struggling goalies Kari Lehtonen and Antti Niemi or is this more about the Stars’ lax defensive coverage? The scary answer may be “Both,” and the Stars likely know that they need to find answers quickly.

On the bright side for Dallas, it is just one game … and the Blues were searching for answers of their own after Game 1.

We saw the Blues turn things around with these two straight wins, so now the Stars must show that they can gather themselves and play the attacking, out-score-your-mistakes style that got them here.

Granted, they may have to keep an eye out for supplemental discipline after some rough stuff toward the end of the game.

Predators smash Sharks to get back in series

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After a dispiriting 1-0 goal allowed by Pekka Rinne, things were looking bleak for the Nashville Predators for a moment there.

Nashville’s developed into a resilient group, however, and they stormed back for a commanding 4-1 win to shrink San Jose’s series advantage to 2-1.

The Predators saw some of their big names come up huge as the series shifted from San Jose to Nashville.

Pekka Rinne looked sharp following that first goal (and didn’t allow another). Their goals came from James Neal, Colin Wilson, Filip Forsberg and captain Shea Weber.

Weber’s tally was the game-winner, and it was downright thunderous:

Another promising sign: after a struggling to a 2-for-31 clip in previous playoff games, the Predators’ power play went 2-for-5 in Game 3.

Overall, the Predators really couldn’t ask for much more from this win, especially if Colton Sissons is indeed OK after a scary crash into the Sharks’ net.

Things could get really interesting if Nashville manages to “hold serve” with another home win on Thursday.

Stars’ goalie carousel goes around again: Lehtonen replaces Niemi

Dallas Stars goalie Antti Niemi (31) subs in for goalie Kari Lehtonen (32) during the third period of an NHL hockey game, Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2015, in Dallas. The Stars won 6-5. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
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It’s pretty tough not to make jokes about the Dallas Stars spending $10.4 million on their goalies at times like these, even if Dallas’ defense should shoulder plenty of blame.

After Kari Lehtonen was pulled from a Game 2 loss, the St. Louis Blues chased Antti Niemi early in the second period of Game 3 after Niemi allowed three goals on 12 shots.

Troy Brouwer‘s 3-1 goal was enough for Lindy Ruff to give Niemi the hook:

Unfortunately for the Stars, Lehtonen got off to a slow start as well, allowing an immediate Vladimir Tarasenko goal.

The Blues are now 4-1 and the Stars are searching for answers … and probably wishing Tyler Seguin was around to help them out-score their problems.