AP Sports Writer
CHICAGO (AP) -- Maybe it was the extra rest, or another raucous crowd at the United Center. Maybe it was just the resumption of one of the NHL's biggest rivalries.
Whatever it was, the Chicago Blackhawks finally found that extra gear they talked about for days.
Johnny Oduya and Marcus Kruger scored in the third period, Corey Crawford made 20 saves and the Blackhawks beat the Detroit Red Wings 4-1 in the opener of their second-round playoff series Wednesday night.
"Much better from our prior series," coach Joel Quenneville said. "I thought what we're talking about in our team game was in place. Had some pace, had some speed, zone time, and I thought everybody contributed."
In the wake of Chicago's five-game victory over Minnesota in the first round, Quenneville talked about a higher level of intensity, and each of his biggest stars echoed his comments. The response was a dominant final two periods in the Blackhawks' first game in the Western Conference semifinals since they won the Stanley Cup in 2010.
Marian Hossa had the opening goal in the first, and Patrick Sharp finished with an empty-netter and two assists to give him nine points in the postseason.
"I thought it was our best game of the playoffs, no question," Sharp said.
Jimmy Howard had 38 stops in a terrific performance, but Detroit still lost to rival Chicago for the eighth straight time dating to last season.
"I think in the first it was pretty even, but then I think in the second and third they looked like they had a little more energy than we did," Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg said. "It's going to be nice to have a day off tomorrow and practice and then looking forward to Game 2."
The series resumes on Saturday afternoon at the United Center.
The 75th all-time playoff game between the Blackhawks and Red Wings was tied at 1 after two periods, and Howard made a great stop on a breakaway by Dave Bolland 4
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