Sixty-five minutes weren’t enough to decide Sunday’s game between the Boston Bruins and Chicago Blackhawks, and Patrick Kane ended up netting the winner in the shootout as the Hawks won this Stanley Cup Final rematch by a score of 3-2.
Marian Hossa and Brandon Bollig also scored goals for the Blackhawks, and Corey Crawford made 34 saves en route to his second win of the weekend. Brad Marchand scored twice for the Bruins and added a shootout tally, and Tuukka Rask made 35 saves in a hard-luck loss.
The game started out the way many expected it to, with the Bruins trying to assert themselves with their great team physicality, and the Hawks were content to absorb the hits and play their puck possession game. Niklas Hjalmarsson took two of the biggest hits in the opening minutes as he took hits from both Jarome Iginla and Milan Lucic.
That willingness to take punishment ended up paying dividends for the Blackhawks as they grabbed the lead just four minutes into the contest. After Hossa stripped the puck from Zdeno Chara, Patrick Sharp shot up the ice, and after a brief hesitation in the near face-off circle, he found a streaking Hossa who one-timed the puck past Tuukka Rask to give the Blackhawks a 1-0 lead.
The Blackhawks continued to apply pressure on both ends of the ice, with the third and fourth lines really coming to play in the minutes following the goal. Not to be outdone though, Patrick Kane made his patented spin-o-rama move on the near side of the ice, and his pass to Brandon Saad on the opposite side of the goal mouth came within mere inches of extending Chicago’s lead, but Rask was able to keep it out of the net.
Crawford really came to play during this sequence as well, making a couple of key saves to keep the game at 1-0. One such play came when Sheldon Brookbank gave away the puck in the defensive zone, and Reilly Smith took the turnover and headed out on a breakaway the other direction. Fortunately for the Hawks, Crawford came out of his net a bit to play the shooter, and he stoned Smith’s shot.
With just 18 seconds left in the period though, a defensive breakdown cost the Blackhawks a goal. When Duncan Keith cut to the middle of the ice to try to cut off Patrice Bergeron on the zone entry, Brad Marchand skated in untouched on the left side of the ice, and he fired a perfect wrist shot past Crawford’s blocker and just inside the far post to tie things up at 1-1 before the period’s end.
The Bruins didn’t let the first intermission stymie their momentum however. Just 50 seconds into the second period, the Blackhawks’ fourth line failed to push the puck far enough into the offensive zone, and then Johnny Oduya cut across the ice to try to cut off a Bruins’ attack, and once again it was Marchand taking advantage of the miscue, and he fired a shot between Crawford’s leg pads to make it 2-1 Bruins.
After that play, both teams began to exchange quality scoring chances. Loui Eriksson was denied on the doorstep as he attempted to pound the puck into the net, and then on the other end, it was Patrick Kane and Andrew Shaw who combined to nearly tie things up, as Shaw’s shot from the face-off circle went just wide of the cage.
With Jonathan Toews in the penalty box for throwing his broken stick over the glass (a violation of NHL rule 53.4), the Hawks seized the momentum and ended up tying things up. After Duncan Keith cycled the puck around from the point, Marcus Kruger pushed it on to Brandon Bollig near the goal line. Bollig flipped a quick shot towards the net, and even though it appeared that Rask’s pad was flush against the post, the puck somehow squirted into the net, and the game was tied up at 2-2.
The end of the second period saw the two teams exchange power plays. Saad was sent to the box for hooking, and then Kane was hauled down just after the Hawks’ penalty expired. Neither team could get anything going on the man-advantage, and the clubs went to the second intermission tied at 2-2.
The beginning of the third period saw more of the back-and-forth action that had been on display in the second, and it was the Bruins who got the first chance at taking the lead as they got a power play off a Brent Seabrook slash. Standing tall on that penalty kill was Michal Handzus, who made a couple of diving shot blocks and contributed to another huge clear as the Blackhawks were able to kill off the penalty.
After that kill, it was the goaltenders who ended up grabbing center stage. Rask got things started by making a gorgeous glove save on Oduya as he pinched into the middle of the zone. Then Crawford was in fine form as he came out to the top of the crease and stoned a Marchand shot from the face-off dot.
Crawford also got the last laugh in the goaltending exhibition, as he helped the Hawks kill off an Oduya delay of game penalty with a couple of brilliant saves in near the net.
In the waning seconds of the third period, Matt Bartkowski hammered Ben Smith face-first into the half boards to give the Blackhawks a power play with just 4.6 seconds remaining. Not surprisingly, the Hawks weren’t able to convert in that short of a time, and they had to carry over the power play into the overtime frame.
In an interesting decision, Joel Quenneville elected to put four forwards out on the ice for the power play in overtime. Despite the decision, the Hawks weren’t able to convert on the power play. The Bruins then got a 2-on-1 the other way, but Gregory Campbell wasn’t able to put the puck home after Hossa was slow to get back to cover on defense.
Despite a late push by the Bruins, including a rush to the net by Chara, the Hawks were able to keep the game tied and the fans at the United Center were treated to a shootout.
After Ryan Spooner fired a shot off the far post on the first attempt, Toews beat Rask stick side with a hellacious wrister to give the Hawks a 1-0 advantage. Bergeron then came in and tried to tuck the puck in the far side, but his shot went just wide, but Sharp couldn’t finish off the shootout as he fired a shot right into Rask’s arm to keep the shootout at 1-0. Marchand of course tied things up at 1-1 as he beat Crawford stick side, but Kane emphatically ended things with his patented slow skate to the net, and he fired a wrister past Rask’s stick to give the Blackhawks a hard fought 3-2 victory.
The Hawks will look to build on the momentum gained from two wins against some of the NHL’s best when they head to Detroit to battle the Red Wings on Wednesday night.