Bruins, Blackhawks fight to finish in OT thriller

Thursday, June 20, 2013


Down 2-1 in the best of seven Stanley Cup Finals, the Chicago Blackhawks knew they had to force the issue early Wednesday night - or potentially be forced to pack it in.

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Trouble was, the Boston Bruins pushed back.  In a game that featured plenty of give-and-take, back-and-forth was Chicago prevailing in another OT thriller, 5-4 to even the series at two games apiece.

Indeed, Chicago surged early as Michal Handzus finally found a way to beat Tuukka Rask for a shorthanded goal and a 1-0 lead...and the Hawks won 13 of the first 20 faceoffs, when they managed to win just 16 total during the entire length of Game 3.  But the Bruins fought back to tie the score with 5:17 left in the first on another power play as Rich Peverley connected on a rebound.

Game on.  But Chicago stayed right in it.

At 6:33 of the second period, Jonathan Toews redirected a slapshot from Michal Rozsival to beat Rask as the Hawks took a 2-1 lead.  Then just two minutes later (2:08 to be exact), Chicago turned up the heat on the Bruins defense by swarming in front of the net and peppering Rask - with Patrick Kane connecting in front of an open net (from Bryan Bickell and Rozsival) to make it 3-1 Blackhawks.

Boston got one back following a defensive line change, where a second-chance put-back by Milan Lucic beat Corey Crawford to make it 3-2.  This was a different Hawks' team playing in the Garden Wednesday night, however.  Running right back at the B's defense, Chicago turned up the pressure and created a two-on-one situation to beat Rask again less than a minute after the Boston tally...with Marcus Kruger putting home a rebound for a 4-2 advantage.

The 2nd period flurry continued with the Bruins pulling back within a goal as Patrice Bergeron popped home a puck that actually bounced up over Crawford off of the glass behind the goal, and dropped down in front of the net where Bergeron pushed it home.  The power play goal ended a spree where the two teams combined for three goals in less than three minutes, ending the 2nd period with Chicago leading 4-3.

At 17:55 of the 3rd, Bergeron evened the score at 4-4 with a slap shot (from Jaromir Jagr) that beat Crawford glove-side.  Midway through the period, Chicago entered a brief spell with a 5-on-3 advantage, and made that advantage pay off just after the Bruins pulled a 4th man back onto the ice. At 11:19, Patrick Sharp poked home the loose puck in front of the net as the Bruins rushed to defend, but to no avail.  Yet, the B's were far from finished.  It took only :55 seconds to prove it.

With 7:46 left in regulation (12:14 into the period), Johnny Boychuk ripped a shot from the point to beat Crawford and square the score again at 5.  Somehow, you just knew these two teams would find a home in overtime for a 3rd time in four games.  And they did.

The unlikely offensive frenzy ended when Chicago's Brent Seabrook wound up and fired the puck from the point toward the net - and beat Rask with 10:09 to play in the first overtime. It would be the only OT they would need this night, as the Blackhawks forced the issue all night long to even the series at 2-2, and return home for Game 5 Saturday night.


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