By Jon Fromi
The Chicago Blackhawks were up and at ‘em for an 11:30 a.m. Sunday loop with the Boston Bruins at the United Center.
The Stanley Cup Final rematch was everything the hype suggested it would be. Yet another matchup between the two clubs was too tight to be decided in regulation. It took the shootout to decide the winner as Chicago prevailed 3-2.
First Period-The Hawks came out strong early. Patrick Kane led a 2 on 1 in the second minute but the play was broken up with Brad Marchand got away with a tug on Brandon Saad’s sweater. Bryan Bickell attempted to complete a wraparound that came up short.
Zdeno Chara looked to have a shot on net for the Bruins, but Marian Hossa lifted his stick and cleared the puck from the Chicago zone. Patrick Sharp chased down the loose puck coming across the Boston blue line and set up Hossa coming down the right side. Hossa’s shot beat Tuuka Rask and into the goal to put the Hawks up 1-0 just 4:13 into the game.
Chicago came back down seconds later with a 3-on-1 that was turned away by Rask. Chicago continued to push the tempo of the game and generated several nice scoring attempts.
Gregory Campbell threw a shot off of Corey Crawford in the eighth minute that was loose near the right post. Loui Eriksson had a eye on the puck but couldn’t get a stick on it. Reilly Smith sent a shot from close range a minute later that Crawford knocked away.
Saad took a pass from Kane in the 12th minute but Rask blocked the tip-in attempt and then collected the puck. Michal Handzus had a pretty good look from the right circle that bounced off of Rask.
Reilly Smith took advantage of a Sheldon Brookbank giveaway and had a clear shot at the Chicago goal. Crawford came up with the big save to negate the turnover in the 15th minute. The action continued to be fast-paced and back and forth.
The Bruins evened the score in the closing seconds of the period. Marchand dug the puck out along the boards at the red line and sent it to Patrice Bergeron, who took it into the Chicago zone. Marchand got to the right circle, where he collected Bergeron’s backhand pass. Marchand’s shot got past Crawford on the far side to make it 1-1 with 19 seconds left.
Second Period-Marchand put the Bruins into the lead 50 seconds into the middle frame when he came into the Chicago zone after taking a pass from Bergeron. Marchand got Crawford down then went five-hole from the left circle to give Boston a 2-1 advantage.
After Hossa and Jonathan Toews had shots blocked in the sixth minute, Toews tossed away his broken stick into the stands. This led to his being assessed a ten-minute misconduct penalty at the 5:50 mark.
With Toews sitting, the Hawks managed to get a goal from the fourth line to tie the contest. Duncan Keith sent the puck behind the net to Marcus Kruger. Kruger swung the puck to Brandon Bollig at the bottom of the right circle. His shot snaked between Rask and the right post 9:44 into the period to make it 2-2.
The Hawks killed a hooking penalty by Saad. With less than five minutes left in the second, the Hawks got their first power play of the day when Matt Bartkowski held Ben Smith. Chicago had the puck on Rask’s doorstep with several opportunities but could not convert. Toews made a run at the net in the final seconds but after 40 minutes the score was still knotted at two goals apiece.
Third Period-Things got started in chippy fashion, with Brent Seabrook whistled for slashing Marchand 1:24 into the third. The Hawks killed the infraction, then survived Johnny Oduya’s delay of game penalty midway through the period.
Boston peppered Crawford for 14 shots in the final 20 minutes, but the Hawks goalie kept the score tied. Rask kept the lid on the goal for the Bruins, gloving an Oduya pinch in the fifth minute as well as a point-blank shot by Toews with 3:30 left.
As the sands ran out in regulation, Bartkowski delivered a cross-check that sent Ben Smith into the boards near the Hawks bench, resulting in a 4-on-3 overtime advantage for Chicago.
Overtime-Coach Joel Quenneville elected to go with four forwards to start the power play in extra time. A Hossa slapper was absorbed by Rask and Sharp missed the net a few seconds later. Hossa managed a shot on goal as the time ran out on the man advantage. The penalty over, Bartkowski led a rush that resulted in Campbell streaking toward the right post with lots of open net to shoot for. Campbell wasn’t able to convert and the game went on, leading to a shootout.
Shootout-Ryan Spooner hit the left post as Quenneville elected for the last shot. Toews found twine over the stick stide of Rask. Crawford denied Bergeron but Rask did the same to Sharp. Marchand evened the score in the third round, but Kane put on the brakes and beat Rask stick side to end the contest.
Three Stars-Crawford (third), Marchand (second), Hossa (first).
-This game had definite playoff energy to it. Doc Emerick made note more than once that the game had plenty of “snarl”, though things never got real ugly on the ice. This was a fast-paced, physical game that saw the momentum swing back and forth. Where have we seen this before?
-I wouldn’t have complained if Hossa and Crow were flipped in the starts selection. Crawford had a lot to handle Sunday and turned away a lot of Boston offense. Officially, he stopped 34 of the 36 shots he saw in nearly 65 minutes of play.
-Then again, hearing Marchand named the game’s first star might have brought a cascade of boos from the United Center crowd. It would have been hard to argue if it had gone that way, though. They guy was all over the ice and accounted for all of his team’s scoring. Like him or hate him, he played a great game for Boston.
-Chicago hosted Colorado, Anaheim and Boston this past week and came away with five of a possible six points. Not bad.
-Time to go watch some football. The Hawks are back in action in Detroit and Minnesota Wednesday and Thursday nights.