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GAME 1 REPORT
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CHICAGO – Though the Bruins lost Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals in triple overtime, 4-3, they played one hell of a road game against Blackhawks.
That may be tough to remember amid all that went wrong for the B's.
There was Torey Krug's bad decision that led to a game-tilting goal in the third period. And Kaspars Daugavins didn't help things when he couldn’t pull the trigger in triple OT after getting a gift pass from Tyler Seguin that left him all alone in front of the net.
Then there was Chris Kelly and the Bruins third line, which wasn’t even close to good enough. (Kelly was particularly bad with zero shots, a minus-3, 15-of-22 lost face-offs and an out-of-position placement in the D-zone on Chicago’s game-winner in triple overtime.)
The Bruins probably would rather not have to play Zdeno Chara, Andrew Ference and Dennis Seidenberg -- three players on the wrong side of 30 years old -- over 45 minutes in any one night, but they did on Wednesday.
And of course the Bruins didn't want to watch Nathan Horton go off the ice in pain because of an apparent shoulder injury.
“We definitely didn’t play our best game. We turned the puck over a lot of times, and didn’t manage the puck well enough,” said Rask. “It just looked like it wasn’t our night. On the power play a deflection hits the inside post, and we can’t get it in. There are a lot of loose pucks in front, and we can’t pounce on those. Daugavins has an empty net. It just wasn’t our night. I see what’s going on there. It’s obvious we can’t score, and then it’s going to come down the other way.”
“We have tomorrow and Friday, and then we move on. It sucks right now, but tomorrow is a new day. It’s hockey and sometimes things don’t go your way.”
Despite all that, there were plenty of good things that happened for the Bruins in a game that proved they were evenly matched with the Blackhawks. One difficult loss isn’t going to derail them.
Bruins coach Claude Julien knows his team has resolve. He pointed to being down 0-2 against the Vancouver Canucks in the Finals two years ago.
“[Losing the first two to the Canucks] never stopped us from coming back,” Julien said. “This certainly won't. When you look at the game, it could have gone either way. I thought we had some real great looks in overtime. With a little bit of luck, we could have ended it before they did.
"But that's the name of the game. They got a good break on their tying goal going off one of our skates. That's the way the game goes. Some nights you get the break going your way, some nights you don't.”
Saturday’s Game 2 should be different for the Black and Gold, and here’s why:
* Tuukka Rask was masterful, and his 59 saves were the most in a Stanley Cup Final game since Patrick Roy of the Avalanche had 63 stops in 1-0 win over FLA Gm 4 in 1996. It took a sniper shot from Brandon Saad, a brutal Krug turnover, a fluky puck off Ference’s skate, and a pinball shot that bounced off Chicago players both high and low to beat Rask.
Two were legit goals off some suspect coverage from the Bruins defense, and the other two were simply bad bounces in the fickle puck luck world of the Cup playoffs.
“They were able to get a tip there at the end, and it just goes to show you how small the inches are this point in the playoffs,” said Milan Lucic. “Shoulda, woulda, coulda isn’t going to get us anywhere, and we just have to put all of our focus on Game 2 now.”
If the Bruins continue to get that kind of goaltending, they should be more than OK.
* Patrice Bergeron was a warrior in 33:30 of ice time while winning 27-of-41 face-offs, scoring a power play goal, and keeping Patrick Kane off the board in Game 1 after he lit up the Kings at the end of the last playoff round.
* The top four defensemen for Boston all played heavy minutes, led the way for a team that blocked 40 shots throughout the game, and had just a few breakdowns aside from Seidenberg’s unfortunate choice to retrieve his glove just before the game-winning goal in triple overtime.
* If Horton can somehow find a way to rally and return to the series, then the Bruins will have a line that the Blackhawks simply didn’t have an answer for in Game 1. Lucic scored goals in each of the first two periods, and the trio of Lucic, David Krejci and Horton did whatever they wanted against the defensive pairing of Niklas Hjalmarsson and Johnny Oduya until the first overtime.
They accounted for two of Boston’s three goals, and finished with nine shots on net despite getting little out of Horton before he went down with an injury.
“We haven't seen this team there. I thought offensively, defensively, I don't know if we've seen a line like [Krejci/Lucic/Horton] all year,” said Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville. “I thought they had a monster game, their top line.
"Maybe we were looking for a little bit more balance, keeping aware of that line. But they were tough to handle.”
If Horton returns soon, a Game 1 triple overtime loss could be just a footnote in what has the makings of a great Cup Finals series.
If Horton stays out, then the Bruins might be in a bit of trouble slotting Seguin into his spot. It completely changes the complexion of the NHL’s most dominant forward line, and turns them from a power trio like Rush into a little more of a soft rock group like REO Speedwagon.
But, remember, the Bruins found a way to beat Vancouver once Horton went down in the Cup Finals with a concussion two years ago.
Yes, Boston's Game 1 triple-overtime loss was deflating. But it would be foolhardy to count them out now with Lord Stanley’s chalice sitting just four wins away.