By Jon Fromi
The Chicago Blackhawks got a pair of goals from Patrick Kane and held on in a tight Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final against Boston Saturday night. Chicago prevailed 3-1 with captain Jonathan Toews observing from the bench for the entire third period.
The Blackhawks take a 3-2 series lead, building a two-goal advantage and getting a big bounce back effort from Corey Crawford. The Chicago goalie made 24 saves to help nail down the win.
The action was back and forth in the first 20 minutes. Boston outshot the ‘Hawks 11-8 but Chicago was solid defensively and created a lot of turnovers despite taking some big hits.
Kane got an early shot from the slot in the first minute but he was off the mark. Duncan Keith struck the left post in the fourth minute. Andrew Shaw turned over the puck to Carl Soderberg a few minutes later but Crawford stopped the shot that resulted. In the eighth minute Chicago worked an odd-man rush but Patrick Sharp couldn’t handle the pass.
Sharp had a great look from the left circle in the fifteenth minute off a nice feed from Michal Handzus. Rask handled the attempt with the blocker.
In the 18th minute, Kane took the puck over from Toews and tossed a shot on net. The rebound came out to Johnny Oduya, who sent a slap shot toward Rask. The puck broke Soderberg’s stick and floated out by the left post. Kane collected it and deposited it into the net with 2:33 to play in the first to give Chicago a 1-0 lead.
The period ended with some four-on-four time thanks to a mash-up between Sharp and Johnny Boychuk. Boychuk finished a check a bit late and Sharp took offense. Matching roughing penalties were assessed and the ‘Hawks went to intermission with the 1-0 lead.
The Blackhawks appeared to have a power play when Nathan Horton tripped Handzus 49 seconds into the second period. However, Handzus was whistled for diving and it was two minutes of four-on-four time. Patrice Bergeron came off the ice at this point, attempted an abbreviated shift, then returned to the bench. His night was over at this point, later being taken from the United Center by ambulance.
Back at full strength, Kane picked up his second goal of the night thanks to some nice work by Bryan Bickell. Coming up the left side into the Bruins zone and working a give and go with Toews, Bickell got off a shot that was blocked by Rask. Bickell got his own rebound, went behind the net and got the puck to Kane in front of the net. The backhand by Kane on a bouncing puck gave the Blackhawks a 2-0 lead at the 5:13 mark.
Soderberg boarded Marcus Kruger at 5:59 to give the game’s first power play to Chicago. Kane nearly potted the natural hat trick in the waning moments of the man advantage, but just missed and the Blackhawks came up empty.
Boston got a lot of traffic in front of Crawford in the 13th minute only to see the puck turned away. The Bruins began to push for a goal to get back in the contest and put more pressure on the Chicago defense. The Blackhawks were up to the task throughout the period, limiting the open looks by Boston shooters.
After a solid shift by the third line, Andrew Shaw took a roughing penalty at 15:20 of the second period from Adam McQuaid. Sharp had the ‘Hawks’ lone shot on goal in the two minutes but the futility on the power play continued.
A Toews turnover provided the Bruins a chance to get a late goal but Chicago prevented any shots from reaching Crawford. Heading into the locker room, The Blackhawks now held a 2-0 advantage.
Boston came out hot to open the third period with David Krejci and Milan Lucic firing on Crawford. Brandon Saad got some open ice and attempted to go forehand-backhand on Rask. Rask made the save and got a blocker on the puck to keep Marian Hossa from putting in the rebound. Meanwhile, Toews stayed planted on the bench.
Boston’s top line put together a big shift that ended with Zdeno Chara one-timing home the Bruins first goal from the left circle from Krejci’s assist. At 3:40 of the final period, the Chicago lead was now 2-1.
Boston pressed even further as the period wore on. The Blackhawks fourth line put a pair of quality shots on net in the eighth minute. Kane was denied by Rask’s glove a few seconds later. Kane took a big hack from the left circle that was also gloved by Rask.
As the minutes began winding down, a familiar pattern emerged. The Bruins pressed hard and dared Chicago to get behind them. The Blackhawks held firm without Toews as Boston’s desperation level increased.
Boston got a point-blank chance late in the 18th minute by Brad Marchand that Crawford stopped. Chicago got a pair of odd-man rushes with Bryan Bickell that failed to draw twine but kept Rask on the ice. The Bruins pulled their goalie in the final minute.
Krejic won a faceoff outside the Chicago zone with 30 seconds to play. The Bruins attempted to get the puck across the blue line, but the fourth line broke things up. Dave Bolland sent a shot into the empty net to lock up the contest with 14 seconds left.
-Obviously the big story coming out of this game is going to be two Selke nominees leaving the game. Toews took a big shot by Boychuk late in the second period so a dreaded “upper-body” injury is possibly looming. He was on the bench and not in a quiet room, so perhaps it’s a shoulder or wrist. Bergeron just seemed to come up hurt-and bad enough that he was taken to the hospital. Game 6 likely hinges on whether Toews and Bergeron are in action.
-Chicago had a lot of chances to extend the lead in the second and third periods and couldn’t cash in, but this may have been the most dominating the Hawks have been in this series. I use that term with the knowledge that the Bruins hung in and had a chance to tie the score.
-Even with Toews sitting out the third, Chicago was able to get it done at the dot. Bolland won six of his ten draws. Handzus was 11-for-18. In all, the Blackhawks won 33 faceoffs to Boston’s 24.
-How much are we going to hear from Bruins fans about the trip Michael Frolik got away with in the closing seconds?
-Hey, Corey Crawford gave up another glove side goal. Maybe Q should pull him. Oh, wait…Crow stopped the other 23 shots fired at him. Sometimes lasers from well inside the blue line will get in the net. Move along, folks…nothing to worry about here.