June 19, 2013
TD Garden, Boston, Massachusetts
#1 Chicago Blackhawks vs. #3 Boston Bruins
The Chicago Blackhawks were reeling.
Not only did they lose Game Three without scoring a goal, but they were left without star forward Marian Hossa. They knew that losing Game Four of the Stanley Cup Final to the Boston Bruins would put both feet in the coffin. Their challenge was big: find a way to get pucks past their stellar defense, and do it all on the road, in one of the toughest rinks of all, the TD Garden.
The puck dropped on Game Four, and the Blackhawks got right to work. A penalty by Johnny Oduya set the stage for a brilliant penalty kill, capped off when Michal Handzus slipped a snapshot past Tuuka Rask, giving the Blackhawks their first goal in 7 periods of play. The Bruins would add a power-play goal just 8 minutes later however, and the tight-checking, even game would remain a tie through the first period of play.
If the initial 20 minutes was too much for some to watch, many channels would have been flipped during the second period. A meager 5 minutes set it off, before Jonathan Toews got things going, tipping in a point shot for his first goal since the semi-finals against Detroit. All of a sudden, the floodgates were wide open on both sides. Patrick Kane increased the Blackhawks’ lead two minutes later, when he buried a no-doubter past a huge scrum in Rask’s crease.
Milan Lucic took a chunk out of the Blackhawks’ lead when he scored his third of the series 14 minutes into the second. PA announcer Jim Martin didn’t even have time to catch his breath from the trademark ‘Woo!’ before Marcus Kruger restored Chicago’s 2-goal lead, after a great nose for the net found an easy rebound and cashed in. Before the second was over, Patrice Bergeron made it a little closer once again, burying a tap-in that bounced off the plexi-glass behind the Chicago goal before landing right in the crease. The second ended with a near goal by the Bruins, as Chris Kelly’s redirection glanced off the post.
Those who expected the same in the third period weren’t totally wrong, but there were not five goals in less than 15 minutes, as we saw in the second. The anxious Boston crowd was set alight by Bergeron just 2:05 in to the frame, when he ripped a one-timer pass from Jaromir Jagr past Corey Crawford, evening the game at four. As a penalty was running out on Jagr, the Blackhawks’ powerplay finally found a spark, when Patrick Sharp buried his 10th of the post-season to give Chicago the late lead. It was the first time the powerplay scored in the series, after a dry spell of 14 opportunities.
The Blackhawks’ attempt at defending the lead didn’t last long, when Johnny Boychuk’s point shot beat Crawford just 55 seconds later. Both teams would give it their best, but the series would head to overtime for the 3rd time in four games.
After 60 minutes of play that saw 10 goals scored, no one was expecting this game to be like the Game One triple-overtime marathon. Game Four’s end was going to come quick, and whoever blinked first was going to lose the game.
That guess held true. Just 10 minutes in, Brent Seabrook delivered the win:
After a miss by Dennis Sidenberg, Patrick Kane’s bounce ringed around the boards and found Bryan Bickell. His blocked shot went right to Seabrook, who skated a bit before scoring his second overtime goal of the playoffs.
Seabrook joined an elite but sparse group of defenseman who have scored two overtime goals in the same playoffs, the other goal being the series-clincher against the Detroit Red Wings in round two.
The Blackhawks deserved the win on that night. Leading in shots by a huge margin going in to overtime, they finally found a way to get chances on the Bruins defense that had held them to one goal in the last two games. The Blackhawks finally found their special-teams game, with a goal on both the penalty kill and power-play. Creating offense at the least expected time was a huge reason the Blackhawks came away with the win, as most of their goals were scored on fourth, fifth, and sixth defenseman in the Bruins’ depth chart. To both Corey Crawford and Tuukka Rask’s credit, most of the eleven goals scored in the game were chance bounces, going off glass, teammates, and posts before finding their way into the back of the net.
Most importantly, the Blackhawks found a way back into the series, winning a game that could have seen their chances grow slim if it went the other way, or.. you know the rest.
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