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.