It’s not about how you start; it’s how you finish. The Chicago Blackhawks couldn’t have had much better of the former. But for the second consecutive game, the Boston Bruins had the more quality opportunities in overtime. And this time, they wouldn’t be denied.
Patrick Sharp scored his ninth goal of the postseason, but Daniel Paille got the winner in overtime as the Bruins beat the Blackhawks 2-1 in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final on Saturday. The Bruins get the split in Chicago, and it’s off to Boston, where Game 3 will be played on Monday night.
The Bruins came out in this overtime much like they did in the extra Game 1 frames: they got the higher quality scoring opportunities. Corey Crawford once again had to deflect some big chances. Then a bad turnover led to Paille’s shot, which also hit iron, but this one went in.
[GIF: Boychuk lays out Bolland]
The Blackhawks got off to a tremendous start, skating and shooting in their aggressive style. Still, it was difficult to get one past Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask; it took Sharp’s tough-angle shot, after a few successive Rask stops, to put them up 1-0. They thought they made it 2-0 a few minutes later on Marian Hossa’s punch-in shot, but the whistle blew early, nullifying the goal.
The Blackhawks were more reserved than resentful about the call.
“You’re trying to score ugly goals like that and the whistle blows pretty quick. It’s frustrating. You wish you can get breaks like that,” Jonathan Toews said. “But it just goes to show it’s something you need to keep doing. You have to keep working on getting those second and third chances in tight.”
Hossa said, “I just tried to battle for the space and all of a sudden I saw the loose puck and I tried to put my stick at the puck. I just felt the puck was crossing the line and the ref said he (blew) the whistle. I didn't hear the whistle, but there was so much noise in the building so I don't know if the referee (blew) the whistle so early or not. But they decided and we have to move on."
[WATCH: Boyle, Konroyd discuss Hossa's no goal call on Blackhawks Postgame Live]
But the Blackhawks really didn’t move on after that first period. They regressed from their game, got away from moving, got away from shooting. After recording 19 shots in the first period, they had 15 in the second, third and overtime combined. The Bruins also started landing more hits on the Blackhawks. Whether it was those hits slowing the Blackhawks down or the Blackhawks just slowing down on their own, the Bruins gained an edge. Then Chris Kelly’s rebound shot of Paille’s initial one tied the game 1-1.
“It's like the second period: I thought we lost the pace of the game on that end of the rink,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “We had the perfect start to the game, then we stopped doing what made us successful. We stood around; they countered.”
[WATCH -- Quenneville: We lost pace in the game]
Sharp said, “We stopped playing the attack game, and that’s the way we’re successful is using our speed and attacking. For some reason, we didn’t keep doing that. For all the talk of how big, strong and physical (the Bruins) are, they move well. It’s a tough challenge (to keep the pace), but we did it in the first period. We have to do it all three.”
Make that more than three, for the second consecutive game. The Blackhawks actually had more shots than the Bruins in overtime (8-6), but the quality factor was definite in Boston’s favor.
[GIF: Down goes Saad]
“I don’t think we played well enough to win that one in overtime at all. We played well in the game, but in overtime they had lots of chances,” Brent Seabrook said. “We came out in the (first) firing and we have to do a better job of keeping the momentum throughout the game. We have to continue to play like we did in the first.”
In Game 1, the Blackhawks played a more physical game to start, then got back to their way of playing. In Game 2, the Blackhawks were playing their style immediately, then got away from it. The Blackhawks weren’t using the nullified goal as an excuse, nor were they using the fatigue-from-Game-1 diatribe. Whether it was their own doing or the Bruins’, the Blackhawks stopped playing their game, and it cost them Game 2.
[RELATED: Hawks won't blame physicality, fatigue on Game 2 loss]
“Nobody’s going to give you anything easy. We came up with a boatload of shots in the first period and we got one goal, which is good. But we have to find a way to build on that. When you get the momentum you have to keep it,” Toews said. “We let them play their game and we didn’t let them earn it. It’s a little disappointing, considering that.”