Hawks-Bruins Game 4
BOSTON – The goals had evaporated for the Chicago Blackhawks the past two games, so they went to the tried-and-true solution: put Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane back together.
It apparently had a good effect throughout the lineup.
Toews and Kane scored two minutes, eight seconds apart and Brent Seabrook recorded the game-winner 9:51 into overtime as the Blackhawks beat the Bruins 6-5 in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final Wednesday night. On a night when Marian Hossa returned, even if he was feeling “so-so,” the Blackhawks grabbed two two-goal deficits, lost them, yet came through in the end.
The Blackhawks’ goal drought became a deluge, as they scored one more in this game than they did in the previous three combined.
“It was one of those nights when some pucks go in,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “If (Tuukka Rask) sees the puck, he’s going to be almost impossible to beat. We want to make sure we get there and make it hard on him to find it, try to go on the second and third opportunity. We had some breaks around the net, found some loose pucks. I thought we had way more traffic than the last game.”
And traffic was a key to Seabrook’s winner. The defenseman’s shot made it through a few bodies, including Toews’, before settling behind Rask to tie the series.
“I just like shooting from that spot but, to be honest, I was just trying to get it past their forward coming out and trying to block it,” Seabrook said. “They do such a good job of blocking shots, getting in the way, getting in lanes. I just tried to get it past the first guy.”
Game 4 was one of those unusual games in so many ways: two usually great defenses giving up a lot of opportunities, two usually strong goaltenders allowing a high number of goals. Corey Crawford had one of his tougher games, as he was beat glove side on every Bruins goal. Rask, who faced a whopping 47 Blackhawks shots, nevertheless gave up six. It was crazy, it was back-and-forth, it was entertaining.
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“I hope it was entertaining for you guys. Personally I didn’t feel like that at all as a defenseman. Five goals against is too much. I was on the ice for three of them,” Niklas Hjalmarsson said. “As long as we win I’ll be minus-3 every single game. I’m just happy with the outcome.”
Crawford knew he was fighting it.
“It was a battle to say the least,” Crawford said of his outing. “Those games are going to happen once in a while. Our guys battled hard in front of me and obviously we scored a ton of goals, so it was just one of those games where you just kind of have to stick with it, brush it off and get ready for the next one.”
Meanwhile, Toews and Kane’s reunion had the desired affect. Toews scored his second of the postseason, a deflection off a Michal Rozsival shot and Kane scored a little more than two minutes later. Toews said it was as much about the familiarity he and Kane has as much as it was about their fellow linemate.
“A lot of credit goes to [Bryan] Bickell. He's having a great playoff,” Toews said of Bickell, who had two assists tonight. “We work hard, get the puck back, get chances. We're cycling the puck and he's playing smart hockey. He's not giving the puck away, he's holding onto it, keeping the play alive. He had a heck of a shot late in the game that hit the crossbar. When the two of us can make some plays and open up space for him, he's a dangerous guy, too.”
“The three of us have been playing well together,” Toews said, “and we want to keep that work ethic going.”
The Blackhawks’ work ethic overall was much improved in Game 4, and it wasn’t just that top line. The Blackhawks got back to having all four lines contribute and after talking about getting more shots on Rask and more bodies right in front of him, they did it. They spread the offense around; Michal Handzus led off with a short-handed goal, Marcus Kruger scored and Patrick Sharp added a goal on that much-maligned and very quiet power play.
“We were not happy giving up leads with the game on the line, but we’ve been in that situation before,” Sharp said. “There’s no use sitting here in the intermission talking about what could’ve been. It’s about getting the next goal.”
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It wasn’t the most defensively sound game, nor will either goaltender probably save this in their personal highlight vault. But Toews and Kane getting back together proved successful again, and the production was contagious.
“You think you have a good lead at 3-1, they make it 3-2. We score a big goal the next shift, 4-2, then they score on the power play. It was just kind of back-and-forth the rest of the game,” Kane said. “I guess it was just our turn to score again.”