Stanley Cup Finals: Blackhawks Ride Rollercoaster to 6-5 OT Victory in Boston

Stanley Cup Finals Game 4
Stanley Cup Finals Game 4
Jun 19 2013 Boston IL USA Boston Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask 40 reacts after giving up the game winning goal to Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook not pictured during the overtime period in game four of the 2013 Stanley Cup Final at TD Garden Harry HowPool Photo via USA TODAY Sports

For the third time in four games, the Chicago Blackhawks and Boston Bruins needed overtime to determine a winner, but Game 4 hardly resembled the prior three.  The electric action featured eleven goals, just one fewer than the total racked up in the first three games. Star netminders Tuukka Rask and Corey Crawford finally cracked, leading to a deluge of goals capped off by Brent Seabrook‘s OT winner.

After a vapid performance in Game 3, the Blackhawks came out firing, reenergized by the return of Marian Hossa. The Bruins hardly showed any life until Johnny Oduya went to the box for tripping Tyler Seguin. Unfortunately for the Bruins, a Tyler Seguin turnover at the tail-end of the powerplay led to a Blackhawks 2-on-1. Zdeno Chara dropped to the ice to stop Brandon Saad, but the Hawks rookie managed to find Michal Handzus, who beat Rask with a shot off the post.

The Handzus’ shot 6:48 into the game was the first to beat Rask at TD Garden since Pittsburgh’s Chris Kunitz found the net midway through Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals. In the lead and flying by their opponents, the Blackhawks looked well on their way to a blowout, but much like in Game 2, it wasn’t smart to poke the bear.

Duncan Keith hooking penalty breathed life into the dormant Bruins, and a strong powerplay helped them gather momentum. As Keith prepared to leave the box, a Brandon Saad giveaway led to big trouble for Chicago. Andrew Ference threw one towards the net only to hit Saad, who once again failed to get the puck out of the zone. Instead the biscuit fell to Rich Peverley in the slot. Peverley has had a woeful postseason, but nonetheless he stepped up with confidence and beat Corey Crawford over the glove to tie the game.

After the intermission, all bets were off. The second period turned out to be the wildest of the postseason. By the time the horn sounded five additional goals would be on the board.

Though Boston came out strong, the Blackhawks finally got some production out of their key stars. 6:33 into the period, Jonathan Toews notched his first goal of the series by deflecting a Michal Roszival shot under the pad of Tuukka Rask. Little more than two minutes later, Patrick Kane picked up his first of the finals when a Brian Bickell second-chance opportunity fell to him on the backside of the play. Rask had no hope of thwarting Kane’s backhand, and just like that the game seemed out of the Bruins’ reach.

Milan Lucic Goal - Game 4 - 2013 Stanley Cup Finals
Jun 19, 2013; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Bruins left wing Milan Lucic (17) scores a goal past Chicago Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford (50) during the second period in game four of the 2013 Stanley Cup Final at TD Garden. Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

Then things started to get wild. A Zdeno Chara shot from the boards gave Milan Lucic a juicy rebound, and the power forward’s hack brought the home crowd back to life. The Bruins followed up Lucic’s goal with an aggressive attack that nearly tied it at three, but the Bruins left themselves unprotected at the other end. Tuukka Rask made the first stop on a Chicago 2-on-1 with an outstretched toe, but Marcus Kruger stuck with it to punch home his first goal of the series, giving NBC’s Ed Olczyk yet another opportunity to rant about the importance of second chance opportunities.

One would think that Kruger’s goal would weaken the Bruins’ resolve, but as has been proven throughout the postseason, nothing makes Patrice Bergeron and company surrender. Bergeron came up huge just 110 seconds after Kruger’s goal, banging home a loose puck after Zdeno Chara banked a shot of the glass and back out in front.

Determined to even the score, the Bruins nearly did just that as time expired in the third. Chris Kelly faced an open net, but couldn’t wrangle a centering pass inside the post, instead slamming it against the outside netting. The goal-horn sounded under the assumption that Kelly simply couldn’t miss, but it would have to wait until the third for a Boston equalizer.

Two minutes into the third period, Jaromir Jagr zipped a pass out of the corner and onto the stick of Patrice Bergeron, who knotted things up with his second of the game. Having clawed their way back, the Bruins couldn’t keep things even for long.

A Jonathan Toews penalty looked like a prime opportunity for Boston to take the lead, but Jaromir Jagr squandered the chance with a high stick that made it 4-on-4. Moments later, David Krejci hooked Patrick Kane to give the Blackhawks a 5-on-3 chance. The much maligned Blackhawks powerplay then finally broke through. As Jaromir Jagr left the box, Patrick Sharp whacked in a Marian Hossa rebound to put Chicago ahead once again.

The Blackhawks lead was short-lived though, lasting just 55 seconds. Boston’s number 55, Johnny Boychuk, launched a rocket past Corey Crawford to make it 5-5, with just 7:46 remaining. The goal marked the fifth time in the game that Corey Crawford was beaten high to the glove side.

Despite Crawford’s obvious weakness, he would earn the win, enduring yet another strong overtime performance from the Boston Bruins. Just shy of the ten minute mark in overtime, the puck fell to Brent Seabrook following a flurry of chances from Patrick Kane and Brian Bickell. Seabrook’s howitzer beat Tuukka Rask to the blocker side, ending the game 6-5 in favor of Chicago.

Although he made 41 saves, Rask suffered his worst game of the postseason. Rask’s inability to slow Chicago came thanks in large part to Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane who finally put their stamp on the series.

Led by their stars the Blackhawks controlled the pace throughout the game, leading to the wide open style. Fast paced and frantic, the high-scoring barnburner was way out of character for two of the NHL’s best defensive clubs, but it continued to demonstrate how unpredictable and tight this series is.

Headed back to Chicago for Saturday’s Game 5, the Chicago Blackhawks are back in great shape, having restored their home-ice advantage.With the offense and the powerplay finally rounding into form, the Blackhawks’ best may be yet to come.

Though the Bruins will be heartbroken after failing to complete the comeback, they made far too many mistakes defensively. They did not play their game, and although their offense kept them competitive, a back-to-basics approach seems necessary. Coach Claude Julien will be furious about his team’s lack of puck-possession and their vulnerability to odd-man rushes in the game, but his experienced team should be prepared to bounce right back.

Both teams have won on the road so far, so home-ice should not be a major factor moving forward. With three games to go, this one seems destined for seven, and hockey fans everywhere should be salivating over that possibility.

author avatar
Chris Blanchard
Chris Blanchard is a Boston, MA native and a student at Davidson College. He began writing about hockey as a Boston Bruins featured columnist for Bleacher Report in the fall of 2012. He has been covering the NHL for XN Sports since May of 2013. !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0],p=/^http:/.test(d.location)?'http':'https';if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);;js.src=p+'://';fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document, 'script', 'twitter-wjs');