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For the second time in as many games, the Boston Bruins and Chicago Blackhawks needed extra time to decide a winner. Three nights after losing Game 1 in heartbreaking fashion, the Bruins battled back to claim a crucial road victory with Daniel Paille‘s OT goal. Tuukka Rask was marvelous once again, making 33 saves to lead Boston to victory. The black and gold will now return to the Bay State for a pair of home games with momentum in hand.
Despite the end result it was all Blackhawks early on. After needing a whole lot of luck to win Game 1, the Hawks looked bound for a blowout on Saturday night. The Presidents Trophy winners were the faster team in every race, winning seemingly every puck battle. Meanwhile the Bruins slogged through the first seemingly demoralized from Wednesday night’s six-period loss. The Boston fore-check faltered again and again, as the embattled Bruins carelessly gave away the puck at every opportunity.
Chicago outshot their visitors 19-4 in the first, but headed to the dressing room kicking themselves for failing to convert their dominance into a big lead. When the horn sounded to end the period, the Hawks led by only one with Patrick Sharp getting the credit.
The goal was the product of a Blackhawk hurricane surrounding Tuukka Rask. An initial Patrick Kane rush rapidly created four to five rebound opportunities with as many as four Blackhawks poking around the crease. After miraculously turning away a flurry of chances, Rask was pinned to the ice by a pile of players, including a Blackhawk that might have deserved a goalie interference call. With no whistle forthcoming, Patrick Sharp threw a final chance on net and somehow threaded it through a mosh pit in front to light the lamp.
The Blackhawks thought they may have doubled their lead a few minutes later when the puck dribbled across the line after a scrum in front. The would-be Marian Hossa goal was overruled as it was clearly preceded by a whistle, resulting from the referee losing sight of the puck. Though video evidence clearly justified the whistle seconds before the puck crossed the line, the play will likely remain controversial moving forward.
The Bruins hardly deserved a place on the same ice as the western conference champions in the first period, and if not for the heroics of Tuukka Rask they surely would be at the bottom of a deep 2-0 hole in the series. The young Finnish netminder stood on his head as he often has this postseason to keep his team in the game, despite the Blackhawks relentless attempts to crash the net in numbers.
The tide took its time to turn, but it certainly did as the game wore on. The Bruins first began to express themselves physically, with Milan Lucic and Johnny Boychuk laying the wood to their opponents, and eventually their speed picked up.
Much of the credit for the turn around must be given to Boston coach Claude Julien, who made the pivotal decision to combine Tyler Seguin, Chris Kelly and Daniel Paille in the second period. The new trio paid immediate dividends, tying the game 15 minutes into the middle frame.
With the Bruins finally establishing their forecheck, Daniel Paille came into possession behind the Chicago net following an Andrew Ference pinch. A nifty deke from the winger put Chicago’s Nick Leddy on his behind, and Chris Kelly was able to spank home a rebound from Paille’s close range try. The goal was Kelly’s first point of the postseason. The former 20-goal scorer has been invisible throughout the playoffs, but he looked completely rejuvenated flanked by the speedy Paille and Seguin.
While the Bruins clawed their way back into the game, the Blackhawks wasted tons of opportunities with the man-advantage. The Hawks went 0-3 on the powerplay on Saturday night and have now failed to score in their last 15 attempts. Late in the second the powerplay nearly proved to be their undoing as a shorthanded Brad Marchand struck the post, in spite of a nasty Brent Seabrook slash that went uncalled.
In the third the Bruins built on their momentum, though they could not put home a go-ahead goal. Chicago’s Corey Crawford continued to build his reputation as an elite netminder stopping 15 shots in the final two periods of regulation to force overtime for the second.
For the second straight game, the Bruins controlled the play in the bonus action. Jaromir Jagr, who looked energetic and dangerous throughout the night, rang the iron on a lovely wrister that nearly ended it just 90 seconds into the period.
Patrick Sharp and Game 1 overtime hero Andrew Shaw made it interesting, creating some scary moments for Boston, but the Bruins were not to be denied.
Thirteen minutes and 48 seconds into overtime it was Claude Julien’s brand new three-headed monster that lit the lamp once again. Chris Kelly won a faceoff just outside the offensive zone for Boston and then a botched breakout by Brandon Bollig set the game winner in motion.
A pinching Adam McQuaid snagged the puck from Bollig, and moved it to the emerging Tyler Seguin. After nearly winning it for Boston in Game 1, Tyler Seguin set up the winner in Game 2 with a perfect dish to Daniel Paille in the slot. Paille unleashed a wicked shot that clanged in off the bar over Corey Crawford’s outstretched glove.
Exhausted from a ten period trip to Chicago, the Boston Bruins left the United Center with a much needed Game 2 win. Following their pitiful first period, Boston’s championship hopes were falling into severe doubt, but their remarkable perseverance has them in good shape for Game 3 at Beantown’s TD Garden on Monday night.
Winning three straight overtime games this deep in the playoffs might have been too much to ask for Joel Quenneville‘s Blackhawks, but they will certainly be disappointed to head to Massachusetts without the 2-0 series lead that seemed guaranteed in the early going.
After beginning the Stanley Cup Finals with two riveting overtime contests, this is shaping up to be a classic series, exceeding the hype at every turn. It seemed only fair after two remarkably close games that the series should be tied headed into Game 3. Theres no telling who has the edge moving forward, but it is already certain that this Cup clash won’t be soon forgotten.
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