The Chicago Blackhawks defeated the Boston Bruins in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final Wednesday night, bringing the series to an even 2-2 after Chicago's thrilling 6-5 overtime victory.
In one of the most exciting games of the season, both teams broke through in a major way offensively. The two sides accounted for 11 total goals, with just one player scoring more than once.
When it was all said and done, Chicago had slightly more firepower.
Chicago defenseman Brent Seabrook scored the game-winner, while Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane both broke through for their first respective goals of the series. Patrick Sharp, Marcus Kruger and Michal Handzus provided goals as well, while both Bryan Bickell and Michal Rozsival had two assists.
For Boston, Patrice Bergeron scored two goals, including a game-tying shot during the third period. Johnny Boychuk, Milan Lucic and Rich Peverley added the others, helping the Bruins to match Chicago's elite offensive display.
So how did it all transpire?
Early on, the Blackhawks displayed a sense of urgency, relentlessly attacking the Bruins and controlling possession. Unfortunately, that aggression ultimately led to a Johnny Oduya interference penalty at the 5:18 mark, and Chicago was suddenly one man down.
Yet it was the Blackhawks that walked away with the advantage.
Tyler Seguin took the puck just inside the blue line, but Blackhawks forward Brandon Saad met him and walked away with the puck on his stick. Breaking into the open ice, Saad made a crossing pass to get Tuukka Rask out of position and, just like that, Chicago broke through.
Michal Handzus fell to the ice, got the puck off of his stick and found the back of the net to make it 1-0 on a short-handed goal.
Goals have been tough to come by for Chicago, which made the goal ever the more important.
Rask may have let the goal pass, but it was the first time since Game 2 that he'd allowed one in (five-plus periods). As for just how impressive his streak was, note that it lasted for more than five periods.
Now that is what you call impressive.
With Boston on yet another power play, Rich Peverley capitalized on an errant Saad pass and immediately put the puck on net, beating Corey Crawford to even the game up at 1-1 and bring the TD Garden to life.
Just like that, Chicago's lead was erased.
During the second period, both teams looked to gain the early edge in this momentous Game 4. While both gave a strong effort, the superstars finally woke up, and the Blackhawks began to pull away in dominant fashion.
It started with 2010 Conn Smythe Trophy winner Jonathan Toews.
At the 6:33 mark of the second period, the Blackhawks pushed it into Boston's zone with Michal Rozsival at the helm. Handzus put a shot on net, and just before it reached the net, Toews stepped in.
Toews deflected the puck and beat Rask for his first goal of the Stanley Cup Final.
That goal was a long time coming for Chicago's captain.
Just over two minutes later, the Blackhawks were on the attack, again. This time around, Bryan Bickell and Rozsival pushed the pace and found Chicago's other superstar. Patrick Kane found the back of the net for the seventh time this postseason and the first time during the Stanley Cup Final.
This has been a long-awaited occasion for Chicago, as the Blackhawks leaders have produced at a less than acceptable level. With their backs against the wall and a 3-1 hole looming, however, Kane and Toews stepped up when it mattered. It's about time.
With the Blackhawks piling on the goals, the Bruins felt the pressure to respond. Fortunately for those in attendance, Boston did just that, taking it in and bringing the deficit down to 3-2.
Yet another point for Milan Lucic.
Lucic continued his magnificent play during the Stanley Cup Final, finding the back of the net off an assist from Zdeno Chara. In turn, the Bruins pulled to within one goal and further established the dominance of their first line.
A huge response at the 14:43 mark.
Not so fast.
Less than one minute later, the cheers were turned into silence with the Blackhawks' next score. This time around, it was a nearly identical play to what we saw during the first period, but between different players.
And, you know, with a great rebound.
Dave Bolland found Michael Frolik to start the attack, as Chicago yet again pushed the pace to avoid the slow grind that we saw during the first three games. Frolik then crossed it to Marcus Kruger, who went for a backhand but found Rask's pads.
In an extraordinary display of balance and focus, Kruger recovered the rebound, maintained his form and found the back of the net for a 4-2 lead.
Less than two minutes later, however, the Blackhawks saw their level of aggression bite them again with another penalty. With the Bruins on the power play, Boston had a chance to bring the deficit to 4-3.
Patrice Bergeron came through. But he didn't stop there.
Bergeron has been Boston's go-to player during clutch situations, and with his team trailing by two goals, he stepped up in a major way. Not only did he score the previously mentioned goal, but he found the back of the net during the third period to even things up.
What else is new?
The legend continues to grow.
Surprisingly, we were scoreless for more than nine minutes until the 4-4 deadlock was broken. When someone did break through, no one in the NHL community was surprised by who it was.
Patrick Sharp scored for the 10th time this postseason, more than any other player.
Marian Hossa and Duncan Keith were credited with the assists, thus padding the production that the Blackhawks received from their stars in this game. For Sharp, it was yet another example of how he's developed into one of the most under-appreciated players in the NHL.
Most importantly, it was the goal that gave Chicago a 5-4 lead.
Do I even have to say this? The lead didn't last long. Fifty-five seconds, to be exact.
Coming off of feeds from Nathan Horton and David Krejci, Johnny Boychuk struck gold. With just 7:46 remaining in the third period, the defenseman scored his sixth goal of the postseason.
This comes after he had six total points in 44 regular-season games.
From there, we went to a familiar place—overtime.
For all of the attention that the goal-scorers received in this affair, the goalies were on top of their game during the overtime period. Both netminders came up with huge saves, and neither gave up an inch to the opposition.
Until the 9:51 mark. The Blackhawks remained on the attack, placing Toews in front of the net and drawing two defenders to block him. Unfortunately for the Bruins, that strategy backfired, as their players ended up blinding Tuukka Rask.
This allowed Brent Seabrook to fire a slap shot in and find the back of the net for an invigorating 6-5 win.
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