|Series Tied 2 - 2|
BLACKHAWKS at BRUINS
(Boston leads best-of-7 series, 2-1)
TV: NBC, CBC, RDS
Big story: After a suffocating 2-0 victory in Game 3 on Monday, the Boston Bruins are poised to take control of the Stanley Cup Final with a victory on Wednesday night at TD Garden (8 p.m. ET). The Bruins took advantage of a surprise health issue that scratched Chicago Blackhawks star right wing Marian Hossa with an undisclosed upper-body injury after the pre-game warm up. Goalie Tuukka Rask got credit for a shutout, but the defense in front of him snuffed out almost all good scoring chances for the Blackhawks.
Chicago also got drubbed in the faceoff circle, losing 40 of 56 draws for a paltry 29 percent success rate. Boston used that advantage to dominate puck possession and outskate the Blackhawks almost the entire game. Now, it’s up to Chicago to respond – whether Hossa plays in Game 4 or not.
History, apparently, is also against the Blackhawks at this point. Since the Final went to a seven-game format in 1939, teams that won Game 3 after splitting the first two contests have won the Cup 21 of 25 times. The Tampa Bay Lightning in 2004 was the last team to drop Game 3 in that scenario and win the Cup.
Bruins: Just about everything went right for Boston after a pre-game scare during the warm-up, when captain Zdeno Chara lost an edge, fell hard and took out teammate Milan Lucic. Chara left the warm-up early but played. Lucic was also fine.
Otherwise, the Bruins did to the Blackhawks what they did to the Pittsburgh Penguins and New York Rangers in the previous two rounds of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. They played great defensively, won 71 percent of faceoffs to dominate puck possession and kept most of Chicago's scoring chances to the outside, where Rask easily turned most of them away. Boston also had the best third line on the ice for the second game in a row, with Daniel Paille notching his second winning goal in as many games. Patrice Bergeron, who won 24 of 28 faceoffs, also scored his second power-play goal of the series.
"He's been real good," Lucic said of Bergeron. "[He] scored that big goal to make it 2-0, he was 24-4 on the faceoffs -- which is an incredible stat. That's a part of the game he takes a lot of pride in and we take a lot of pride in as a team. Every pregame skate, I know the guys are working on faceoffs. It's a lot easier starting with the puck than it is chasing it."
Blackhawks: After grinding out a win in that marathon triple-overtime thriller in Game 1, the Blackhawks were the better team in just one of the next five-plus periods -- getting dominated on Monday night despite allowing just two goals. Their power play remains a mess, and it's becoming a big issue. Chicago went 0-for-5 with the man-advantage in Game 3 and is now 0-for-11 in the series and 0-for-20 since the last power-play goal scored by Bryan Bickell in a 4-2 Game 2 win against the Los Angeles Kings in the Western Conference Final. The Blackhawks are also 1-for-27 (3.7 percent) in road power plays.
Boston's 88.9 percent success rate of killing power plays has something to do with it, but the bigger issue is the Blackhawks' inability to get the puck into the offensive zone and get set up to start launching shots -- which is another issue altogether. In Game 3, Chicago only got four shots against Rask in 8:11 of man-advantage time. The Blackhawks also got dominated in faceoffs, with Michal Handzus going 0-for-10 and Dave Bolland just 1-for-8 (13 percent).
"It starts [by] losing the draw initially," coach Joel Quenneville said of the power-play struggles. "That's the area we have to get better. Hopefully you don't have to resort to the entry. We're still going to have to find a way to get through it and find ways to have possession off it. Might have to go indirectly to get it and have puck battles to get more retrievals, start off with the puck more."
Who's hot: Paille has scored two goals, both game-winners, in as many games and Rask hasn't allowed a goal since the first period of Game 2 against Patrick Sharp.
Injury report: Boston's Gregory Campbell (leg fracture) is out for the rest of the postseason, while Nathan Horton is playing through an upper-body injury that knocked him out of Game 1 in overtime. … Hossa is being called "day-to-day" for the Blackhawks and Quenneville said on Tuesday that he's "likely" to play in Game 4.
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