Despite the long break, there was no sign of rust for the Blackhawks. The Red Wings skated right with Chicago at the start, but they couldn't keep up at the end of the game and coach Mike Babcock said they were looking forward to a day off.
"We're not trying to take anything away from them," he said. "They were better than us. The score tonight was more than fair as far as I'm concerned. They were better."
The Blackhawks struck first in the first playoff game between the teams since Detroit won the 2009 Western Conference final. With Gustav Nyquist in the box for hooking, Sharp forced a turnover along the boards and Jonathan Toews sent the puck to Hossa, who one-timed it past Howard at 9:03.
Detroit needed less than two minutes to respond, tying it when Brunner poked in a rebound for his third career playoff goal. The rookie center also contributed three assists in the first round against the Ducks.
The Blackhawks killed off two power plays created by penalties on Andrew Shaw. They killed off another one when Nick Leddy was sent off for delay of game in the second period, making them a perfect 20 for 20 on the penalty kill in the postseason and sinking Detroit to 1 for 18 on power plays against Chicago, including the regular season.
"We know that we're a much better team than this," Red Wings defenseman Niklas Kronwall said. "The second and third period were not nearly good enough. We know we're better than this, so we have to find to get better here for Game 2."
NOTES: It was the 800th game between the teams. ... Detroit F Justin Abdelkader was shaken up after he collided with Blackhawks D Michal Rozsival in the first period. He was helped to the bench after a few moments down on the ice, but eventually returned to the game. ... Blackhawks F Viktor Stalberg was a healthy scratch. Quenneville said it was a "coach's decision" and Stalberg could get back on the ice at any point. ... Toews and Pavel Datsyuk of the Red Wings joined Patrice Bergeron of the Boston Bruins as finalists for the Frank J. Selke Trophy as the NHL's best defensive forward. ... Chicago won eight of the previous 15 playoff series against Detroit.
Jay Cohen can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/jcohenap