Hossa late scratch prior to Game 3; B’s, Rask shut down Hawks 2-0, Boston takes 2-1 series lead

By Brad Vandenberk

Tuesday night, the Stanley Cup Finals shifted to Boston for a pivotal Game 3.   The Chicago Blackhawks had yet to win a game 3 this post season, whereas the Boston Bruins were 3-0 in Game 3’s during these playoffs coming into Tuesday night’s contest.

Viktor Stalberg was inserted back into Chicago’s line up, and for the first time this series, to try and add some speed to the offensive forecheck.  Stalberg replaced Brandon Bollig, who had taken Stalberg’s spot in Games 1 and 2 in Chicago.  Stalberg was also warned by coach Joel Quenneville to watch his defensive responsibilities as well.  Quenneville was quoted saying he was looking for “more” from Stalberg in essentially every facet of his game.

The TD Gardens arena in Boston was cursed tonight before the puck even hit the center dot.  Marian Hossa took the warm up, but quickly headed to the locker room and was a last minute scratch.  On the Bruins side, Zdeno Chara lost an edge and collided with Milan Lucic, also in the pregame skate, and received a cut to the back of his head.  Chara returned in time for opening puck drop – Advantage Bruins.  Coach Q was forced to change his line up and insert the young Ben Smith, playing his first game of the playoffs.

Coach Q’s blender spit out Johnny Toews, Michael Frolik and Marcus Kruger to take the opening faceoff.  At first, this was assumed that this line was just out for the first draw.  We all know what happens when you assume?  Patrick Kane was still alongside Michal Handzus and now Brandon Saad.  Dave Bolland took his 3rd line center spot with Smith and Patrick Sharp.  Finally the line that dominated in the regular season was rekindled, Andrew Shaw centering Bryan Bickell and Stalberg.

The after whistles scrums started right off the first shot Tuukka Rask faced.  The Hawks knew they would have to get some traffic in Tuukka’s kitchen.  This period started out the same way as game 2, dominating forecheck by the Hawks.  The Bruins had an answer this time and came right back with their own version.  Chara leaves the ice once again and heads down the tunnel.  During this time the Hawks don’t notice he is missing for a few shifts.  He comes back to the ice and it seemed to be a skate problem.

The ref’s arms flies up to call the first penalty of the hockey game.  Kaspars Daugavins introduces Shaw’s face to his elbow.  It’s time for another Hawks power play.  The frustrations on the power play begin to glow.  The Bruins do a great job not allowing the Hawks to get the puck over the line.  Daugavins breaks out of the box with a potential 3 on 1 for the Bruins.  He loses the puck at the blue line causing an offside.

Duncan Keith has a wide open look in front of Rask and tries to send it over to Toews who tips it wide.  With 5:45 remaining Shawn Thornton gets involved in the after whistle play and the ref says sends him off for a rough.  Enter circus music, because here comes the Hawks power play.  Not only do the Hawks struggle on this one as well, they also allow the Bruins to get two shorthanded chances.  Corey Crawford keeps the Hawks alive.  Brad Marchand gets a break away and loses the handle on the puck.  He shatters his stick in half when he returns to the bench.  The period ends in a scoreless tie and the Bruins outshooting the Hawks 11-10.

Less than 3 minutes into the second.  Dan Paille strips Bolland of the puck while he tries to break out of the zone.  He quickly fires a shot past Crawford’s glove and the crowd goes wild 1-0 Bruins.

The Hawks have no push-back after the goal and the Bruins take advantage.  Marchand, Jaromir Jagr and Patrice Bergeron fire pucks from all over and the Hawks are forced to fend off a barrage.  Toews looked like the only Hawk who wanted it.  He was buzzing around the net trying to slide one past Rask.  Brent Seabrook found a streaking Kane, but Kane waits till Christmas before he does anything with the puck.  David Krejci levels Toews in front of the Bruins bench.  Lucic also heads after Toews with a good hit.

Then, the Bruins get their first power play attempt.  Bolland can’t handle Chris Kelly’s speed and sends him flying into Crawford sending him to the sin bin for cross checking.  With 11 seconds left in the man advantage, Niklas Hjalmarsson also can’t keep up with the speed of the Bruins and trips Paille.  Just as the 5 on 3 expires Jagr finds a wide open Bergeron at the side of the net.  Crawford fails to make it across in time and its 2-0 Bruins.

The line blender is sparked up once again, as Q puts Toews with Sharp and Stalberg.    Bolland heads to the bench he gets caught for a slew foot / tripping call on Johnny Boychuck.  1:00 remained on the clock and Tyler Seguin almost scores in the exact same spot Bergeron did.  Bruins take a 2-0 lead into intermission and get another minute of the power play to open the 3rd.

After the killed penalty, Toews and Kane are finally playing together again.  Rask gets involved in the play sending a puck up ice, giving the Bruins a 2 on 1.  Crawford needs to answer the call once again.  Seabrook walks off the blue line but shots it wide.  Bickell sends Chara flying after a thunderous hit in the corner.  Kruger’s turn to show case his speed.  He breaks through the B’s defense but Adam McQuaid hauls him down with a good old fashioned can opener.  Queue circus music.  Lots of passing and fighting over the puck, but not a single shot was registered on Rask during the power play.  Shaw breaks down the wing and sets up his new line mate Kane who is robbed by Rask.

Bolland gets his 3rd penalty of the game as he tries to get away with one behind the scenes tripping Krejci.  He received the death stare from the bench and the Hawks are forced to kill off their 4th penalty of the game with 6:05 left to mount a comeback.

In a desperate move, down 2-0 with the minutes ticking down in the third frame, Q throws Kane on the penalty kill.  Kane gets a shorthanded chance but Rask is too good.  Saad breaks away from Krejci forcing him to hook him down.  The embarrassment that is the Hawks power play gets another chance.   The Hawks, this time, keep the puck in the zone but still can’t solve Rask.

With Crawford on the bench, Bickell walks in and beats Rask but not the post.  As the seconds tick down Bickell and Chara get into a wrestling match in front of Rask.  Chara ends up driving his head into the ice on the way down.  Shaw grabs Marchand and sends a message for game 4.  All 4 players get ejected and the game ends 2-0 with the Bruins take a 2-1 series lead in the Stanley Cup Final.

Quick Hits:

-Bruins out shoot the Hawks 35-28.

-Hawks go 0 for 4 on the power play with the Bruins going 1 for 4.

-Toews won 8 of 19 faceoff with Bolland and Handzus going 1 for 17 combined.

-Keith led all Hawks with 26:21 TOI next closes was D partner Seabrook at 22:09.

-Hawks lose their 4th game 3 of these playoffs.

-Marian Hossa remains day to day with an upper body injury.  After the game, Joel Quenneville told reporters he hoped to have Hossa back for Game 4 Wednesday night in Boston.

-Ben Smith told reporters after the game that he wasn’t told he’d be playing in Game 3 until after the pregame skate, which he did not participate in.  Quenneville and Jonathan Toews both told the media that the team had been aware all day of the possibility that Hossa may not be able to play.

Brad Vandenberk

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