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Top Chicago Blackhawks Playoff Wins: Glove Hand!

By Colin Likas
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If there’s any reason at all you remember the next game on our list of most memorable Chicago Blackhawks playoff wins under coach Joel Quenneville, it has to be the glove hand.

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Corey Crawford‘s glove hand, to be precise. This is the game that generated the idea that any puck shot to Crawford’s glove side might as well be taken in hand, walked up to the crease and thrown in. While Crow didn’t have the best of nights in this game (obviously), it’s still on this countdown. Sometimes the skaters save the goaltender, and sometimes the goaltender saves the skaters.

Note: Check out the previous entries in this series at the end of this post.

No. 18: 2013 Stanley Cup Final, Game 4

Chicago Blackhawks 6, Boston Bruins 5 (OT)

Going into this game at TD Garden, the Bruins led the series 2-1 following a formula that wouldn’t work for the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2015. And it wouldn’t work for the Bruins, either.

Speaking of things that didn’t work for the Lighting, how about when Ben Bishop got too frisky playing the puck in Game 5 this year, giving Patrick Sharp an empty-net goal? Yeah, that was great. It could’ve happened in this game, too, as Tuukka Rask came way out of his crease to challenge Marcus Kruger just a couple minutes into the game. Though the Blackhawks managed to take control of the puck after this, nothing came of it.

What did get Chicago started was a penalty kill about as a result of a Johnny Oduya penalty about five minutes in. As the kill was winding down, Brandon Saad stripped Tyler Seguin of the puck at Chicago’s defensive-zone blue line. Saad skated along the boards and threw the puck cross-ice to Michal Handzus, who managed to roof a shot while being blasted to the ice from behind. The Blackhawks struck first blood, and the Bruins probably used this moment as part of their justification for moving Seguin to Dallas after the playoffs (heh).

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Bryan Bickell, Saad and Sharp had some good chances for the Blackhawks ahead of the game’s next goal, while David Krejci could say the same for Boston. But defensemen would be key for the Bruins as they got on the board with Duncan Keith in the box for hooking.

After Torey Krug had multiple great chances, including a shot that exploded off the crossbar behind Crawford, the puck was frozen in Chicago’s defensive zone. Though the Blackhawks won the ensuing draw, they failed to clear the puck when Andrew Ference threw his body in front of said puck along the boards. With the Blackhawks traveling the wrong way, Ference sent the puck to Rich Peverley above the circle to Crawford’s left, and Peverley sniped it into the twine to tie the game about 15 minutes into the first.

What likely frustrated Blackhawks fans on this play was Crawford’s general lack of movement trying to stop the shot. As color man and former Blackhawk Eddie Olczyk points on, Crow was likely expecting Peverley to feed the puck to the more-talented Seguin at the doorstep and wound up unprepared for a shot from Peverley.

The look of a surprised goaltender. (Screenshot from YouTube)

Crawford came up with a nice stop early in the second period with Keith again in the penalty box, as Nathan Horton tried to stuff in the puck down low but was turned aside by a sprawling Crow’s stick. For those scoring at home, the Blackhawks would only commit two penalties in the second, third and overtime periods combined.

Jonathan Toews used some magic to create Chicago’s second goal, about 6:30 into the second. With Bickell crashing the net, Toews fired the puck cross-ice and saw it slam off the boards and deflect toward the blue line. Michal Rozsival was entering the zone, corralled the puck and slapped it toward Rask. Toews had found his way to the front of the net and managed to deflect the puck past the Bruins goaltender to push the Blackhawks ahead again.

Sharp would have a breakaway opportunity a short time later after Nick Leddy stole the puck in Boston’s offensive zone and hit Sharp with a perfect stretch pass, but Rask was up to the challenge that time. He wouldn’t be at the 8:41 mark of the second, when Rozsival again fired a shot from near the blue line, with Rask getting a pad on this one. But he permitted a big rebound, which Bickell sent back on net. Rask turned that aside, too, but allowed yet another big rebound, this one to Patrick Kane, who roofed a backhander over the flailing goaltender to push Chicago’s edge to two.

Not optimal for Boston. (Screenshot from YouTube)

So a two-goal lead on the road. That’s good. Still plenty of time left, though. Plenty of time for both sides, in fact.

Rask needed to make a big toe save on Marian Hossa on a Chicago powerplay not long after Kane’s goal, and it turned it to be even bigger than it looked. The Blackhawks again failed to clear their zone, this time with less than six minutes to go in the middle frame. Zdeno Chara rifled a shot at Crawford from above the circles, and Milan Lucic sent the rebound home to cut Chicago’s lead to one.

Apparently operating on the belief this game wasn’t exciting enough, the teams crammed two more goals into the last five minutes of the second. As Lucic’s goal was still being announced, Michael Frolik and Marcus Kruger broke on a 2-on-1. Frolik fed Kruger to the doorstep at Rask’s left, and Kruger was initially shut off by Rask. But the fourth-line center stuck with the play and tapped the puck past a down-and-out Rask, lifting Chicago back to a two-goal lead.

And then that one goal happened. Chicago committed one of those two penalties I mentioned earlier (Kane, hooking) with less than three minutes to play. About a minute into the man-advantage for Boston, Chara slung a shot from below to the blue line and Crawford turned aside into the air. In fact, it wound up bouncing off the end boards, off the top of the net and back in front of Crow, who had no idea as Patrice Bergeron slammed the puck into the net for a strange marker.

The Bruins would actually hit the post with another shot before the period ended, resulting in an errantly blown goal horn, as Doc Emrick described it. Crow had to make a pair of saves down low on Jaromir Jagr as well before the frame ended.

But wait, there’s more!

Boston emerged from the locker room with that same offensive push, and it paid off quickly in the third. Jagr had the puck in the corner to Crawford’s left, and he fed it to Bergeron in the slot. Bergeron’s one-time beat Crow (I don’t need to tell you it was glove side), and we were knotted up at four.

Bickell absolutely hammered a shot off the crossbar about 6:30 into the period, and his look afterward said it all: This is a heck of a game.

Along with the looks on the faces of those two guys behind him. (Screenshot from YouTube)

Considering Sharp had been stopped on a few great chances by Rask already in this game, it was only fitting he put the Blackhawks back in front. With Jagr and Krejci both in the penalty box, Chicago set up a two-man powerplay attempt (i.e. they passed a lot). As Jagr had just left the box, Hossa blasted a shot toward Rask. It hit traffic in front and fell to Sharp, who poked it home from the doorstep, then bit it trying to celebrate Chicago’s 5-4 advantage.

That lead lasted all of 55 seconds, as various board battles in Boston’s offensive zone saw Johnny Boychuk receive the puck all alone above the circles. Naturally, he blew it past Crawford on a slapper, and this crazy game was tied again.

It should probably be noted Chris Kelly passed up a pass to Seguin on a 2-on-1 with less than three minutes to go. A pass there probably puts Boston ahead. Keeping Seguin definitely makes them better today. Hindsight.

Boston fans were probably ready to explode when they realized their team had the opportunity to go up three games to one at home with an overtime winner. The Bruins tried to make that a reality early in the extra frame, but both Bergeron and Brad Marchand were stopped (in Marchand’s case, he missed the net) on in-close chances in the first couple minutes.

You know who we haven’t talked about in this post? Brent Seabrook. Let’s fix that. After a series of attempts about halfway through the overtime, Seabrook collected the puck above the circle to Rask’s left. The defenseman wired a shot through heavy traffic, and while it may have hit Dennis Seidenberg along the way, it seemed to cleanly beat Rask stick side to end the contest at a wonky score of 6-5.

Rask actually turned aside 41 shots in this game, compared to Crawford’s 28. But sometimes the skaters help the goaltender. The goaltender, in this case Crawford, would certainly help his team in the next two games by allowing three goals total en route to a Stanley Cup.

Previous entries

No. 19 | No. 20 | No. 21 | No. 22 | No. 23 | No. 24 | No. 25 | No. 26 | No. 27 | No. 28 | No. 29 | No. 30 | No. 31 | No. 32 | No. 33 | No. 34 | No. 35 | No. 36 | No. 37 | No. 38 | No. 39 | No. 40 | No. 41 | No. 42 | No. 43 | No. 44 | No. 45 | No. 46 | No. 47 | No. 48 | No. 49 | No. 50 | No. 51 | No. 52 | No. 53 | No. 54 | No. 55 | No. 56 | No. 57 | No. 58 | No. 59 | No. 60 | No. 61 | No. 62 | No. 63 | No. 64 | No. 65 | No. 66 | No. 67 | No. 68 | No. 69 | No. 70 | No. 71 | No. 72 | No. 73

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