"It looked like they had more guys out there than we did," Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask said. "They were pouncing on every single puck in front of net, had a lot of chances. We definitely played pretty bad. But, you know, it was good that we were only down by one and regrouped after that."
Rask made 18 saves in the first period to keep Boston in the game. The Bruins slowed the pace and established the style they wanted to play in the second period before winning 2-1 in overtime in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final at United Center.
The Bruins tied the game on Chris Kelly's first goal of the Stanley Cup Playoffs late in the second and kept it that way into overtime, when they had several dangerous chances before Daniel Paille finally won it with a shot from the left side at 13:48.
Boston coach Claude Julien scratched together a new third line of Paille, Kelly and Tyler Seguin that provided the offense Boston needed. Rask made 33 saves, and by withstanding the opening 20-minute surge by the Blackhawks, the Bruins found a way to ship the best-of-7 series back to Boston tied 1-1.
Game 3 is Monday at TD Garden (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS).
"We talked about how Tuukka gave us a chance by keeping us in it and we have to play much better in every area," Boston left wing Milan Lucic said. "Once we simplified our game and got our feet going, that's when things started happening for us. Hopefully we don't wait a period next game in order to wake up."
Down the hall in the home dressing room, the Blackhawks were trying to explain how they didn't grab a bigger lead in what was a dominating first period. They held a 19-4 edge in shots on goal and 30-5 lead in shot attempts. Patrick Sharp (six) and Marian Hossa (five) each had more shots on goal than the Bruins team. Boston's top-six forwards managed a combined one shot on goal.
Despite all that dominance, all Chicago had to show for its efforts after 20 minutes was a 1-0 lead on Sharp's ninth goal of the playoffs at 11:22.
"Maybe we left something out there," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "[We] had everything right in that first part of the game; had some good looks, as well. [We] did what we were looking to do. But, hey, it's a long game. You know, we got to be better than that."
The Blackhawks nearly had a second goal 70 seconds after Sharp scored, but Rask fell flat across the goal line and had the puck near his feet when referee Wes McCauley, who was standing behind the cage and looking through the top mesh, blew his whistle to stop the play.
Replays showed the puck did cross the goal line, but upon video review, the NHL's Situation Room ruled that McCauley had blown the play dead before Marian Hossa pushed Rask's pads and the puck across the goal line.
After the first period, the Hawks' scoring threats were few and far between.
"We just didn't continue to play the way we'd been playing," Chicago captain Jonathan Toews said. "We let them have the puck a little too often. We didn't move our feet. We were too easy to check."
Why? The answer depends on who you ask and what color jersey the responder wears. Neither side seemed too inclined to give the other team much credit for the dramatic change in how the game was being played.
The Bruins felt their physical edge helped them pick up the pace and slow down the Blackhawks' dangerous transition game.
"They definitely came out with a lot of speed in the first period and we wanted to change that," Paille said. "Playing physical is part of our game, where we've been successful. That's been huge for us. We started to pick up the pace when that happened. We have to stick with that."
The Blackhawks felt they were guilty of slowing down, trying to be too cute and too fancy instead of pushing the pace.
"It's not what they do, it's what we do, and I feel we stopped using our quickness, the quick passing game and challenging their D," Hossa said. "That's what we stopped doing."
Whatever the theory, the fact of the matter is the Bruins were able to tie the game on Kelly's goal with 5:02 left in the second period.
Seguin forced Sharp to turn over the puck behind the goal line and Paille was able to dance past Blackhawks defenseman Nick Leddy to put a wraparound attempt on Crawford, who had his paddle down to make the save. But the puck bounced off the paddle, slid through Patrick Kane's legs and went right to Kelly, who chipped it in from the slot for his first playoff goal since Game 1 of the 2012 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals.
"I think it's even more important to play the other parts of the game when you're not contributing offensively," Kelly said. "I think you need to pick up other aspects of your game to make them better in order to be a better all-around player. Everyone would love to score and score consistently.
"For whatever reason, I haven't. I try to stay positive. As long as the team's doing well, I know that's kind of a cliché, but that's kind of how our room is. On any given night, someone can step up. Paille showed that [Saturday night]."
Paille did it with help from Seguin and defenseman Adam McQuaid.
Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook rimmed the puck up the left-wing boards, but it got past left wing Brandon Bollig and McQuaid played it back down the wall to Seguin, who quickly moved it across the zone to a wide-open Paille. He took his time and fired a high, glove-side shot that went past Crawford and just inside the far post with 6:12 left in the overtime.
"I decided to pop out and [Seguin] saw me," Paille said. "I just tried to shoot it off as quick as I can with the 'D' coming at me. I felt good coming off, and I was glad to see it go in."
Relieved may be an even better word, especially considering the night was looking like a disaster in the first period.
"We've got to show up on time for these kind of games," Julien said. "It could have cost us [Saturday night]."
Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl