Stanley Cup Final
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Patrick Kane’s goals weren’t his usual highlight-reel material: not dazzling, not off slick puck-handling or a spin-o-rama. Instead, they were of the clean-up variety, right-place-right-time goals off rebounds or loose pucks.
But they were effective nonetheless.
Kane scored two goals and the Chicago Blackhawks held on without Jonathan Toews in the third period as they beat the Boston Bruins 3-1 in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final on Saturday night. The Blackhawks are one victory away from claiming their second Cup in the past four seasons, and they’ll get an opportunity to close it out in Game 6 in Boston on Monday night.
Corey Crawford rebounded from a rough Game 4 performance, stopping 24 of 25 shots in the victory.
Toews, who had secondary assists on each of Kane’s goals, took some big hits in the first two periods, including a punishing –- and high –- one from the Bruins’ Johnny Boychuk late in the second. Toews finished the second and came out for the third, but never took a shift, instead sitting on the bench the entire final 20 minutes. Coach Joel Quenneville said Toews, who appeared to be asking to play a few times that third period, has an upper-body injury.
[QUENNEVILLE: Every game has been a battle]
“We’re hopeful he'll be ready next game,” Quenneville said. “We'll see how he is tomorrow. I don't think it was a defining blow. I'm not sure, exactly, (about) the incident.”
Players said Toews, however, was a vocal presence on the bench that entire third period.
“He was talking to us, telling us to support underneath, block as many shots as you can, work for each other,” Andrew Shaw said.
Boston suffered a big loss of its own in Patrice Bergeron, who was injured in the second and taken to a local hospital in the third period. Boston coach Claude Julien said he didn’t have much of an update at the moment.
“As far as we're concerned, he's just getting evaluated right now. Not much I can say on his situation,” Julien said. “It's just an injury that wasn't able to let him finish the game. He may be in next game. I'm not going there.”
While the teams lost their respective top-line centers, their teams played on. The Blackhawks were staked to 2-0 advantage, thanks to Kane’s up-close handiwork. Johnny Oduya’s shot broke Dennis Seidenberg’s stick en route to Tuukka Rask, and Kane cleaned that up for a 1-0 lead. His second came off Bryan Bickell’s attempted wraparound, which hit the goal post and was there for Kane.
“You know, sometimes you catch some breaks. I think I was in the right spot at the right time tonight on both goals,” Kane said. “I thought I had some other chances, too, that I could have scored. But I think playing with Johnny and Bicks, they create a lot of space, and I've been taking advantage of the space they do make. I think everyone wants to be that guy in big-time games, and I've been lucky enough in a couple to step up.”
Shaw, who ended up centering that top line in Toews’ absence, couldn’t help but poke some fun at Kane’s “garbage” goals.
“I guess he’s going to get those kind of goals, too,” Shaw said with a grin. “They’re not pretty but they’re huge goals for us.”
No, they’re not; and yes, they were. But Kane still had that stellar puck-handling game in full effect, and he finished with a game-high six shots on goal.
“It’s just his ability to have his head up and make the play. I don’t know. He’s just an unbelievable puck-handler and I don’t know if that’s just natural talent -- he’s worked on it, I’m sure, too. But his poise, his patience and ability to settle the puck down and making flat passes through guys’ legs; you know, there’s only a handful of guys who can do that in the league.”
Crawford did the rest. Outside of being beat by a Zdeno Chara screamer, Crawford was solid. The Blackhawks’ defense shored up in front of him, and outside of their stronger third period, the Bruins weren’t exposing Crawford’s glove side near as much tonight.
“Rock solid,” Quenneville said of Crawford. “You know, I think everybody was asking (about him) going into it. Corey just moves forward. He's big, he moves, he anticipates and nothing bothers him. And he just looks to look after the next shot.
The Blackhawks are now looking at Game 6 as their potential Cup clincher. But it’s not going to be easy; the Bruins, with or without Bergeron, are going to be fierce. They’re still uncertain if Toews plays. The Bruins are going to make the Blackhawks earn everything, and the Blackhawks know they’re going to have to bring a Game 5 effort, or better, to capitalize.
“It’s going to be exciting, one away from the ultimate goal,” Bickell said. “I was part of the team in 2010 but unfortunately I didn’t get the etching on (the Cup) there. It’ll be a hard task going to Boston. Hopefully we can finish it up.”