CHICAGO – Marian Hossa celebrated his return to the lineup with a goal and two assists, and the Chicago Blackhawks defeated the Detroit Wings 4-1 on Sunday night to snap a two-game losing streak.
Ben Smith had a goal and assist, and Nick Leddy and Jonathan Toews scored for defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago, which is struggling to keep up with the top contenders in the Western Conference.
Despite the win, the Blackhawks are 11-8-7 in 2014 and remained fifth in the conference and third in the Central Division.
Gustav Nyquist scored for the injury-depleted Red Wings, who are desperate for wins as they try to get into the playoffs for the 23rd straight time.
Chicago’s Corey Crawford made 19 saves and Detroit’s Jimmy Howard had 26.
The 35-year-old Hossa was back in action for the first time in two weeks. The right wing was knocked out with an upper-body injury in the Blackhawks’ 5-1 victory over Pittsburgh at Soldier Field on March 1.
The banged-up Red Wings played without 10 injured players, including stars Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg. Forward Todd Bertuzzi joined the list on Sunday, sitting out after suffering a lower-body injury on Friday against Edmonton.
The Blackhawks faced Detroit for the second time since beating them in overtime in Game 7 of their second-round playoff series last year to complete a comeback from a 3-1 deficit. The Red Wings defeated Chicago 5-4 in a shootout on Jan. 22 at Joe Louis Arena.
The Blackhawks and Red Wings were division rivals for the past 31 years until Detroit moved from the Western to Eastern Conference this season. The NHL Original Six teams were grouped together in the Central Division for the previous 19 seasons and in the Norris Division for 12 years before that.
The Blackhawks outshot the Red Wings 11-5 in the scoreless first, but neither team generated sustained pressure or many prime scoring chances.
The Blackhawks turned up the pressure early in the second and outshot Detroit 14-7 in the period.
Howard came up with close-in pad saves on Hossa and Niklas Hjalmarsson during a flurry about 5 minutes into the period to keep it scoreless.
Leddy’s power-play goal, on Chicago’s 19th shot, finally opened the scoring at 8:44 of the second. His drive from just inside the left point sailed through a screen and slipped between Howard’s pads.
Nyquist tied it at 1 with 4:50 left in the period with a power-play goal that deflected in off the skate of Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook.
After the Red Wings had controlled the puck in the Chicago zone, Nyquist shot from the inside of the edge of the right circle. The shot appeared to be heading wide of the lower left corner of the net, but struck Seabrook’s left foot and got past Crawford.
Smith put Chicago back in front 2-1 on a rebound with 14 seconds left in the period.
Defenseman Duncan Keith carried the puck down the right wing boards, closed to the circle and then fired through a scrum. Howard got a piece of the shot, but Smith muscled in the loose puck from the edge of the crease.
Hossa gave Chicago a 3-1 lead at 6:33 of the third. After taking a feed from Patrick Sharp, Hossa raced down the right wing, cut in around Detroit defenseman Brendan Smith and beat Howard from close range.
Hossa’s set up Toews’ short-handed goal with 2:10 left that iced it.
After stealing the puck from Johan Franzen near the Chicago blue line, Hossa skated down the right wing. He pulled up and then fed Toews, who cut to the net and tucked in a shot.