On Wednesday, Chicago beat out Boston for the services of Jon Lester, and on Thursday the Chicago Blackhawks continued that trend as they knocked off the Boston Bruins by a score of 3-2.
Ben Smith picked up a goal and an assist, and Patrick Kane scored his ninth goal in 13 games as the Blackhawks won their eighth consecutive game. Reilly Smith and Torrey Krug both scored for the Bruins, but it wasn’t enough as the Hawks kept up their winning ways.
The game got off to a sluggish start as both offenses looked to be prodding for weaknesses in their opponent. The Bruins were the ones who got their feet underneath them first, picking up several quality chances in the process. Carl Soderberg barely missed Milan Lucic with a pass on a 3-on-1 rush, and then Patrice Bergeron deflected a Dougie Hamilton shot just wide of the net. Bergeron then pounced on the rebound, but Scott Darling made the save to keep the game scoreless.
With about 11 minutes to go in the period, it was the Blackhawks who ended up striking first. Smith grabbed the puck behind the net, and he was shoved to the ice by Gregory Campbell. Smith protected the puck, got up, and fed a pass to the front, where Klas Dahlbeck fired in a shot for his first career NHL goal to give the Blackhawks a 1-0 lead.
The Blackhawks seemed to capitalize on the momentum from that goal, racking up scoring chances over the next few minutes. Dahlbeck got a good chance denied by Tuukka Rask on a rush, and then Brandon Saad deked around Zdeno Chara and nearly beat Rask on a breakaway, but his shot was turned away. The Hawks got a power play off of that sequence, but they weren’t able to score as Boston tightened up on defense.
With just over a minute remaining in the first period, the Blackhawks’ offensive push paid off again as they extended their lead. Daniel Carcillo corralled the puck as it slid along the boards behind the net, and he immediately fired a shot toward the front. It didn’t pose much of a challenge for Rask, but the ensuing one-timer by Smith did as the winger slipped a wrist shot into the net to give the Blackhawks a 2-0 lead after 20 minutes.
The second period got started with the Bruins turning up the pressure on offense, but the Hawks were able to withstand the barrage. Reilly Smith was denied by Darling after a Duncan Keith turnover led to a scoring chance, and then Lucic was stoned by the goaltender as well. Finally Bergeron got another good scoring chance that Darling got a piece of, but the Hawks held their collective breath for a moment as the puck grazed off the post and skipped harmlessly away.
[NATL] Celebrities in the Stands
Later in the period, the Bruins surrendered a five-on-three power play to the Blackhawks, but the visitors weren’t able to convert before the first penalty expired. That became way less important a few moments later as Jonathan Toews was drilled head-first into the boards by Dennis Seidenberg. The defenseman got a two-minute minor for boarding, but Toews was able to stay on for one more shift before being removed from the game with an upper-body injury.
The Bruins couldn’t cash in on a brief power play after Toews was whistled for hooking, and they paid the price just after the man-advantage concluded. With Chris Kelly in the net and Rask scrambling to regain his crease, Kane got the puck along the side of the cage, skated it out a bit, and then ripped a wrist shot just inside the far post to make it a 3-0 game with seven minutes remaining in the period.
As the second period came to an end, the Bruins continued to swarm around the net, and they finally were able to cash in with about a minute remaining. Bergeron made a great play after he lost his stick, kicking the puck to Brad Marchand. Marchand then bounced a pass off the side of the net, and Reilly Smith picked it up and deposited it into the goal to make it a 3-1 game after two periods.
The third period got underway with both teams struggling to move the puck forward. The Hawks seemed to enjoy the Bruins’ ineffectiveness, playing a game of keep away to help drain time off the clock and frustrate the home side.
After a while, Boston finally started to generate some momentum, and they eventually trimmed Chicago’s lead to one goal. After Bryan Bickell and Dahlbeck were denied at one end, Lucic made a tremendous play from behind the Hawks’ net to thread a pass out to the front while being levelled by Andrew Shaw. Krug pinched in and got the puck, quickly flipping it into the net to make it a 3-2 game.
The final eight minutes of the contest saw Boston generate numerous chances, but none of them were converted upon. Soderberg and Cunningham both had good chances late, but Darling made a couple of key saves as the Hawks held on for yet another victory.
The Blackhawks will go for nine in a row on Saturday night as they travel to the Nassau Coliseum to take on the New York Islanders for the final time at the venerable rink.