After struggling for more than 120 minutes to score even once, the Blackhawks beat Boston goalie Tuukka Rask a half-dozen times in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup finals to send the series back to Chicago tied two games apiece.
Now that’s an Original Six.
Brent Seabrook’s slap shot 9:51 into overtime gave the Blackhawks a 6-5 victory on Wednesday night, restoring the home-ice advantage to the Western Conference champions. Game 5 is Saturday night in Chicago, with Game 6 back in Boston on Monday.
”I guess it was just our turn to score again,” said Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane, who had a goal and an assist in the back-and-forth game in which Boston come back to tie the score three times. ”It was a fun game to play. … I’m sure the fans enjoyed that, for sure.”
It was the third overtime game in the matchup of Original Six franchises, but it bore little resemblance to the three tightly contested games that opened the series. The teams combined for five goals in the second period – as many as in Games 2 and 3 combined – as Chicago bounced back from its first shutout of the season with its most prolific output of the playoffs.
Bryan Bickell and Michal Rozsival had two assists apiece for Chicago, which had scored only five goals total in the first three games of the series and hadn’t gotten the puck past Rask in more than 129 minutes coming into Game 4. Corey Crawford made 28 saves, coughing up the lead three times.
”They keep coming,” Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. ”One of those nights.”
Patrice Bergeron scored twice and Zdeno Chara and Jaromir Jagr each had two assists for Boston, which has won 11 of 14 playoff games; the three losses have all been in overtime.
Rask made 41 saves but he was screened by Jonathan Toews on the game-winner, which quickly quieted the building where Boston had earned a dominating, 2-0 victory two nights earlier – the only Blackhawks’ shutout of the season.
”One of the things we have talked about, get pucks to the net,” said Seabrook, a defenseman who also had the overtime goal in Game 7 of the Western Conference semifinals. ”I just tried getting it on net, we had a great screen in front. … It just found a way.”
The Blackhawks led 1-0, 4-2 and 5-4, but each time the Bruins evened it up. The last, just 55 seconds after Chicago took the lead, came when Johnny Boychuk slapped it over a sliding Johnny Oduya with 7:46 left in regulation.
Boychuk, who had never scored more than five goals in a season, has six in the postseason.
”It wasn’t a Bruins’ type of game, but at the same time you have to get yourself back into it,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said. ”Our guys worked hard to score goals. Probably got ourselves out of what our normal game plan is. So we opened up and we scored goals, but we also gave them some goals, like the game-winning goal.”
The overtime was even until the Bruins failed to clear the zone, and the Blackhawks got the puck to Seabrook at the right point. What seemed like a harmless shot eluded Rask, and the Blackhawks followed with a subdued celebration at the end of another long night.
”If he sees the puck, he’s going to be almost impossible to beat,” Quenneville said. ”We want to make sure we get there and make it hard on him to find it, try to go on the second and third opportunity. Nice ending with traffic in the net, Seabs having a shot that tied us up.”
The Bruins had trailed for under 60 minutes total of the almost 900 minutes they had played in the postseason. But the Blackhawks came out strong early in this one, recording the first seven shots and taking a 1-0 lead on a short-handed goal when Oduya was off for interference early in the first period.
Brandon Saad picked Tyler Seguin clean in the defensive zone and brought the puck down the ice before flipping it across to Michal Handzus, who rattled it in off the post to make it 1-0. That snapped Rask’s shutout streak that dated to the first period of Game 2, but the lead didn’t last for long.
None of them did.
The Bruins tied it on the power play when Andrew Ference kept the puck in at the blue line, and Rich Peverley finished it off with a wrist shot.
But it was in the second period that the teams really opened things up.
Toews tipped in Rozsival’s shot to put the Blackhawks back in the lead with 6 1/2 minutes gone. Just over two minutes later, Chicago took its first two-goal lead of the series when Kane converted a rebound to make it 3-1.
It stayed that way for six minutes before Milan Lucic deflected Chara’s shot into Crawford and then put back his own rebound to make it a one-goal game. Forty-nine seconds later, Kruger stuck with the puck until he had poked it past Rask and into the net to make it 4-2.
That’s when Boston got some luck.
Chara’s shot from the center of the blue line deflected off Crawford’s left shoulder and over the net, where it hit the back wall, bounced back onto the top of the net and landed in the slot, right in front of Bergeron. He chipped it in to make it 4-3, then tied it two minutes into the third.
”You think you have a good lead at 3-1 and they made it 3-2. Then we had 4-2 and they scored on the power play,” Kane said. ”It was back and forth the whole game but a fun game to play.”
Patrick Sharp gave Chicago a 5-4 lead with 8:41 left in regulation – on an assist from Marian Hossa, who missed Game 3 with an undisclosed injury – but it lasted only 55 seconds before Boychuk tied it.
Notes: Bruins Hall of Famer Bobby Orr, who also played briefly for Chicago, was in the crowd, waving a yellow towel in support of the Bruins. … Boston killed 29 consecutive penalties dating to Game 5 of the Eastern Conference semifinals, including the first 13 Chicago opportunities of the finals. … The Blackhawks had the first seven shots of the game despite a penalty that left them short-handed. … Jagr assisted on both goals by Bergeron, giving the 1999 NHL MVP 199 career postseason points. He is fifth all-time. … Midway through the first, Boston’s Shawn Thornton hit the scoreboard when he lofted the puck out of the zone.
Source: Associated Press