BLACKHAWKS at BRUINS
(Best-of-7 series tied 1-1)
TV: NBCSN, CBC, RDS
Big story: The Boston Bruins stole home-ice advantage away from the Chicago Blackhawks with a gritty 2-1 overtime victory in Game 2 on Saturday night at United Center, just three days after losing a three OT marathon in the series opener. The Bruins have a chance to take control of the series over the next two games if they can hold serve on home ice at TD Garden in Boston -- a place where they haven't lost since the Eastern Conference Quarterfinal round.
Chicago has its work cut out facing a hot goalie in Boston's Tuukka Rask and a stifling defense that got better as Game 2 went along. The Blackhawks, who had a six-game home winning streak in the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs snapped, played in their third straight overtime game in this postseason and looked fatigued through the latter half of the game.
Neither winning team thus far led at any point in either game until scoring the game-winner in overtime.
Bruins: They looked cooked after the first period of Game 2, but the Bruins regrouped with some pointed words during the first intermission and steadily began to take over the game in the second, continuing that control through most of overtime. Daniel Paille's wrister from the left circle with 6:12 left in OT whistled past the glove of Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford and the Bruins were headed back home much happier than they were following Game 1.
Boston coach Claude Julien created a new third-line combination of Paille, Chris Kelly and Tyler Seguin coming out of that first intermission break Saturday night and it worked. That line scored both goals for the Bruins, who also got a dazzling performance by Rask. One game after allowing four goals, Rask made 33 saves -- including 18-of-19 in the first period alone. Chicago only managed nine shots combined through the final two periods of regulation.
"I don't think our team has played a bad first period like that in a long time," coach Claude Julien said on Sunday in Boston. "I don't expect it to happen again. We're back in our building, where we have our fans. I think our guys are going to be excited about that. Nonetheless, we have to have a better start. You learn from past mistakes. That's a mistake I think our team hopefully has [learned]."
Blackhawks: They came out in Game 2 and threw just about everything in their arsenal at Rask in the opening 20 minutes. It resulted in just one goal, scored by Patrick Sharp, to cap one of the most intense scoring chances of the game for either team. Chicago thought it had scored again to make it 2-0 just 1:10 later, but referee Wes McCauley lost sight of the puck under Rask and tried to blow the play dead before Marian Hossa shoved Rask and the puck over the goal line under the net.
Then, for some reason, the Blackhawks started losing steam. They never got it back to a sustained level and paid the price. While it's true that a turnover by fourth-line left wing Brandon Bollig led directly to Paille's game-winner in OT, that play alone didn't lose the game for Chicago. The Blackhawks put 19 shots on goal in that first period and attempted 30 shots to just four shots on net for the Bruins and five attempts. They need to find a way to keep that kind of pressure on Rask for longer. One way coach Joel Quenneville will look to do that is by replacing Bollig on Chicago's fourth line with Viktor Stalberg, who will be making his Stanley Cup Final debut.
"It's about us, I believe," Hossa said. "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 [defense]. That's what we stopped doing. We know they're going to play a physical game, but with our quickness that's our advantage and we have to use it much more often."
Who's hot: Sharp's goal in Game 2 was his ninth of the playoffs and tied him with Boston center David Krejci for the League lead in that category. Sharp also put seven shots on goal. … Paille not only ended Saturday night's game in overtime, but assisted on Kelly's goal that knotted it 1-1 late in the second period.
Injury report: Boston's Gregory Campbell (leg fracture) is out for the rest of the postseason, while Nathan Horton played all of Game 2 after leaving Game 1 late in the first overtime, during a power play, with what appeared to be an upper-body injury.