Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final, between the Chicago Blackhawks and Boston Bruins, will go to the team that can play the best hockey in each individual period.
A balanced attack all the way through is what’s necessary at the TD Garden on Monday night. Strong puck possession, defense and goalie play is required. Whichever team wins at least two of the regulation periods because of those three factors will take a 2-1 lead in the series.
So, which team will enter Game 4 in Boston with a 2-1 lead in the Stanley Cup Final?
Here is a prediction of how each period of Game 3 will play out, with estimated goal and shot totals to paired with analysis of the opening two games.
First Period: Chicago Puts on the Pressure
Chicago has come out firing in the first two games of the series. The Blackhawks have outshot the Bruins 27-15 in the opening period, but the teams have the same number of goals: one.
While the Bruins had the better first period in Game 1, the intensity from the Blackhawks in Game 2 is what really stands out. After the opening game of the series went to triple overtime, the Bruins had an extra day off and still came out flat in Game 2. Chicago put 19 shots on net in 20 minutes while Boston had just four.
That’s very important to keep in mind heading into Game 3.
Game 2 required an additional period and, this time around, the Bruins only had one day off to rest. Seeing as Boston didn’t start Game 2 with much fire, don’t expect to see anything special in Game 3. Chicago is more than capable of putting at least 15 shots on Tuukka Rask if the Bruins can’t keep up with the speedy Blackhawks.
A couple of first-period goals could be the difference in the third game of the series.
Prediction: Chicago 1 (17 Shots), Boston 0 (7 Shots)
Second Period: Boston Ties It Up
The Bruins are a resilient team and they never roll over to an opponent when they trail. Despite falling behind in the first period, the second is where Boston has done the most damage in this series. The Bruins haven’t put as many shots on net as the Blackhawks, but they’ve gotten more to go in.
In Game 1, Milan Lucic scored less than a minute after the puck was dropped in the second period. Chicago, however, would cut the 2-0 deficit in half a few minutes later, with a goal from Brandon Saad. Chris Kelly scored a second-period goal in Game 2 with about five minutes to go.
The second period is going to be vital for Boston.
If the Bruins don’t come out of the locker room and get the puck in the zone quickly, they’ll find themselves in trouble. Boston cannot afford to give Chicago any momentum in the second period because, if they do, the Blackhawks could blow the Bruins right out of their own building.
If the Bruins can win the time of possession battle in the second period, they should be in good shape heading into the third. But a lapse in judgment on just one play could cost Boston the period and the game.
Prediction: Chicago 1 (28 Shots), Boston 1 (23 Shots)
Third Period: Chicago Says No to OT
The Bruins average more shots in the third than in the first or second, so expect to see around 15 going Corey Crawford’s way. Chicago, on the other hand, puts more pressure on in the first than it does later in the game. The Blackhawks, however, have still put more shots on net than the Bruins in every period, on average.
Chicago has been very good this series and have not given up when they faced a deficit. Twice during Game 1 the Blackhawks found themselves down a pair of goals. The Bruins had a 2-0 lead early in the second and a 2-1 lead six minutes into the third. Chicago battled back each time and turned the opener into a closely-contested game.
The Bruins did come back from a 1-0 deficit in Game 1, but that wasn’t until nearly 20 minutes later. When the Blackhawks fall behind, they bounce back quickly and have scored within a few minutes. That’s not to say that the Bruins aren’t capable of a similar comeback, it just hasn’t happened yet.
Chicago needs to a take a game from Boston on the road, considering it dropped one to the Bruins at the United Center. The Blackhawks will do so in Game 3, scoring a goal in the third that the Bruins can’t match, sealing the victory.
Prediction: Chicago 2 (41 Shots), Boston 1 (35 Shots)