Following what was a highly entertaining Stanley Cup Final game Wednesday night, what could the fans expect heading into Game Five, with an extra day of rest thrown in?
Would the focus still be on the glove hand of Chicago goaltender Corey Crawford? “In the LA series, they were talking about his blocker side,” said ‘Hawks coach Joel Quenneville before the game.
One thing for certain, Wednesday’s game was an aberration. Bruins’ goaltender Tuukka Rask had the lowest GAA (1.83) in the playoffs, and Crawford (1.86) was second!
The Bruins meanwhile, were concerned that their captain, All Star defenseman Zdeno Chara, had been on the ice for five of Chicago’s goals on Wednesday.
Boston did make a change to add some more offense to their line-up, pulling Kaspars Daugavins, and inserting Carl Soderberg, his first appearance of the playoffs.
The starting pace was similar to Wednesday’s, with outstanding chances for both sides, but both sides missed the net.
At 17:27 of the first, the Blackhawks broke through, Patrick Kane tucking in the rebound off the broken stick off defenseman Dennis Seidenberg. When the stick broke, it turned the initial shot into a “change-up,” and allowing the soft hands of Kane to put it in behind Rask. The first period ended, 1-0, Chicago.
The Blackhawks top line tallied again at 5:13 of the second. Bryan Bickell and Jonathan Toews worked a give-and-go down the left side against Seidenberg. Bickell took the shot, gathered in his own rebound, and carried behind the Boston net. His fluttering pass beat Zdeno Chara and was backhanded into the net by Kane for his second of the game.
Meanwhile, one of the main cogs for the Bruins, Patrice Bergeron, was on the bench and only briefly on the ice in the second period. Bruins’ Coach Claude Julien told NBC’s Pierre McGuire: “Let’s just say right now, we’re going to give him a little bit of time.”
The Blackhawks took that 2-nothing lead into the third and David Krejci had a pair of good chances early in the period, only to be foiled by Crawford.
As the third period began, the youngster making his first appearance of this post-season, Carl Soderberg was put into Bergeron’s slot. Bergeron wasn’t on the bench to start the third. The CBC reported (later confirmed by the Bruins) that Bergeron had left the building in an ambulance, off to the hospital for observation.
The Blackhawks had their own problems as the third began. Jonathan Toews was absent for his shifts on the top line with Bickell and Kane. Initially, Michal Handzus moved up between them. Johnny Boychuk had blasted Toews late in the second, and the Blackhawks’ captain apparently had not recovered from that hit.
Bruins’ captain Zdeno Chara scored, blistering one over Crawford’s glove at 3:40 from Krejci and Lucic, cutting the Chicago advantage in half. At this point, the Bruins had taken the offensive initiative away from the home side.
As the Blackhawks attempted to respond, Patrick Kane gunned one from the left circle, which Rask gloved down at 8:31 of the third.
There was more carnage as the third period unfolded, as Brent Seabrook was hurt while blocking a shot and struggled getting back to the bench. At that point, there was no information on Jonathan Toews’ situation. Toews was on the bench, but appeared done for the night after playing 12:56 with two assists over the first two periods.
The surviving members of the two teams continued the struggle with time winding down. Bickell carried in on a two-on-one with Kane, and rather than risk a pass on the chopped-up ice, took the shot. Ultimately, Boston pulled Tuukka Rask from the net with a minute to go.
Chara tried to help the attack in front of the net, but the Blackhawks muscled the puck out of their zone down the right side and David Bolland fired the puck into the empty net for the 3-1 Chicago victory.
Now, back to Boston for Game Six at TD Garden. Who will be left standing and able to play? Can Boston keep this wonderful series alive for a Game 7? It all gets started at 7 o’clock CT Monday on your local NBC affiliate.
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