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Banged-up Hawks not about to give up
By Tim Sassone | Daily Herald Staff

The Hawks' Martin Havlat, who played only eight minutes in Game 4 Sunday, is questionable for Game 5.

 

Associated Press

The absence of Blackhawks goalie Nikolai Khabibulin was the biggest factor in Sunday's Game 4 loss to the Red Wings.

 

Associated Press

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Published: 5/26/2009 12:00 AM

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No matter what happens Wednesday night at Joe Louis Arena, the Blackhawks have had a great foray into the world of the Stanley Cup playoffs as the youngest team in the NHL.

That doesn't mean the Hawks are ready to roll over and play dead in Game 5, needing a victory to stay alive in the Western Conference finals.

The Red Wings lead the best-of-seven series 3-1 and can end what has been a magical playoff run for the Hawks with 1 more victory.

"Obviously this is not the ideal situation, but you've got to look at it as positive as you can," Hawks defenseman Duncan Keith said. "We need to win one game in Detroit on Wednesday, and that's how we look at it."

A Hawks win Wednesday would bring the series back to the United Center for a Game 6 on Saturday night.

Both teams are banged up, the Hawks a little more seriously than the Red Wings.

Hawks coach Joel Quenneville probably won't know until Wednesday if either goalie Nikolai Khabibulin or winger Martin Havlat can play in the team's first do-or-die game of the playoffs.

Khabibulin missed Sunday's 6-1 loss in Game 4 with a lower-body injury, believed to be another groin issue, and his absence was the biggest factor in the game.

Cristobal Huet started for the first time in the playoffs and played poorly. He was pulled early in the second period after allowing 4 goals in 17 shots and only returned to start the third period because Quenneville wanted to get him more playing time, knowing he likely would have to go with Huet again in Game 5.

The Hawks aren't sure Khabibulin can even practice Tuesday.

"We'll see (Tuesday)," Quenneville said Monday. "We'll get an idea if he can get on the ice or not."

Havlat played only eight minutes in Game 4. He was trying to come back from Niklas Kronwall's hit from Game 3 and couldn't finish the game after taking another shot from Brad Stuart in the second period.

The Hawks don't have the depth that the Red Wings do to overcome injuries to such key players as Khabibulin and Havlat.

The Red Wings played without defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom, center Pavel Datsyuk and winger Kris Draper and didn't skip a beat in Game 4. Forwards Marian Hossa and Henrik Zetterberg responded with huge games and defensemen Brian Rafalski and Stuart played heavy minutes in place of Lidstrom.

Red Wings coach Mike Babcock expects to have Lidstrom back on the ice Wednesday.

Little went right for the Hawks in their Game 4 loss, starting with goaltending and continuing with questionable discipline.

"I think it's something we've done well all season, bounce back, learn from our mistakes," Hawks defenseman Cam Barker said. "I think (Sunday) kind of got away from us. We might have let our emotions kind of get in the way. Obviously you can't be running into the box against a team like that. I think we've learned all season and bounced back. I don't see it being any different."

The Hawks took 9 roughing penalties alone that helped contribute to the Red Wings going 3-for-8 on the power play.

Hawks center Sammy Pahlsson felt the Hawks tried too hard in Game 4.

"There's a lot of emotions going around just from being in the conference finals," Pahlsson said. "Guys want to do a lot. They want to play good. They want to do stuff out there. You just have to make sure you put your energy - do the right thing out there.

"We didn't do that (Sunday), I think. We got a little carried away. I think we can learn from it, too, maybe can channel that energy in the right direction for the next game."

The Hawks claimed they weren't seeking revenge for Kronwall's hit on Havlat, but it was obvious the Red Wings were fine with them running around looking for payback.

"Frustrations are boiling over," Patrick Sharp said. "Both teams are starting to dislike each other quite a bit, and I just think we need to find a way to stay a little more disciplined and play 5-on-5 hockey."

"We weren't even close to playing the way we can," Brent Seabrook said. "I think we've got a lot more in the tank."