CHICAGO -- After three overtime games in last year’s Stanley Cup Final, you figured the Bruins and Blackhawks would require some extra time when they renewed acquaintances Sunday.
This time it went to the regular-season shootout rather than sudden-death overtime, and the Blackhawks took care of business with a 3-2 shootout win at the Madhouse on Madison. Jonathan Toews beat Tuukka Rask as the first of Chicago’s shooters and Brad Marchand matched him as Boston’s last of the first three shooters, but Patrick Kane wrapped things up with a slo-mo wrister.
The Blackhawks and Bruins traded goals in the first two periods. Marian Hossa was the recipient on an odd-man rush just 4:13 into the game after a sweet feed from Patrick Sharp marked by the speed and skill of the Hawks. But the Bruins fought back with a Marchand score with 19 seconds to go in the first period after a slick backhanded drop pass from Patrice Bergeron, and the score was tied.
Marchand made it two goals in the game – and 14 on the season – when he schooled Corey Crawford by faking a shot as he moved to the net, and then firing through Crawford’s pads when he opened up the five hole early in the second period. Chicago fought back as well, and Brandon Bollig managed to squirt a puck through Tuukka Rask when the B’s goalie failed to completely shut off the near post.
That set things up for the highly entertaining third period, and made certain that both the Bruins and the Blackhawks “put on the show” that B’s coach Claude Julien was hoping for on the big Sunday afternoon stage.
GOLD STAR: Brad Marchand supplied all the offense that the Bruins would need to get them to overtime and the shootout with a pair of goals within 69 seconds of each other -- one with 19 seconds left in the first period, and the other just 50 seconds into the second period. The Nose Face Killah also won the battle for the puck along the boards in the neutral zone that set up his first goal, and led all B’s players with four shots on net. It was a sweet performance for Marchand, who was dreadful against the Blackhawks in the Cup Final with zero points and a minus-3 rating in the six game series. This version of the Nose Face Killah was playing with speed, attitude and courage, all of the things that mark him at his best.
BLACK EYE: Gregory Campbell lost 4-of-10 face-offs, had a single shot on net and whiffed on a pair of chances to potentially win the game in crunch time. The first was a tough rolling puck rebound of a Daniel Paille shot in the third period that he couldn’t calm down, and the second was a clear miss on a Matt Bartkowski shot that deflected right to him. Campbell had an open net to shoot at on the quick change of direction play, but couldn’t finish off the play. He had company, of course: Kevan Miller was a minus-2 and the Brandon Bollig game-tying goal was of the soft serve variety courtesy of Tuukka Rask. But Campbell had two clear chances to put it away before the shootout, and couldn’t pull the trigger.
TURNING POINT: The Bruins outshot the Blackhawks by a 14-7 margin in the third period and controlled long periods of pace between the two elite teams, but couldn’t convert on several scoring chances. The most glaring was Gregory Campbell’s inability to put back a Corey Crawford rebound of a Daniel Paille shot, and a nice stop on a Milan Lucic bid in front during a power play halfway through the third period. Once it go to overtime with the B’s killing off a penalty, it seemed that the shootout was inevitable. Thought the Haws are 5-11 in extra session games this season, they are still far better equipped for a shootout than the Bruins.
HONORABLE MENTION: Marian Hossa finished with a game-high five shots on net, nine total shot attempts generated and a great play in the first period to open up the scoring for the Blackhawks. That he did this while also playing 22:34 of great two-way hockey in an extremely challenging game tells you that Hossa was feeling much better than he was during an injury-plagued Cup Final against Boston. Hossa jump-started his goal with a strong play in the defensive zone, and then deftly finished off a Patrick Sharp setup for the win.
BY THE NUMBERS: 5-2 – the record for the Bruins in matinee games after the rare 11:30 a.m. local start in Chicago that eventually led to defeat.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "It's nice to have him back." -- Claude Julien talking about Brad Marchand, who went from slumping early in the season to scoring 10 goals in his last 17 games, including a pair vs. the Blackhawks.