The Chicago Blackhawks were desperate to climb back into the Stanley Cup Final. If only they could scratch out a goal or two against Tuukka Rask, they would have a chance to go back to Chicago with the series tied 2-2.
That was the theory before the start of Game 4. However, the Blackhawks and Bruins made mincemeat of that idea and engaged in a track meet of a hockey game that saw Chicago emerge with a 6-5 overtime victory. Brent Seabrook was the game's final hero when he blasted home the winner 9:51 into overtime.
"We did a lot of good things tonight. (We) look at the positives and move forward." -Coach Q says with a smile. pic.twitter.com/CViJU2FkmN— NHL (@NHL) June 20, 2013
Overtime has become standard in this series, as three of the four games have gone into extra time. This was the Blackhawks' second overtime win, and the series is tied 2-2.
Going into this game, the Blackhawks were getting ready to call the authorities because their stars were missing in action. Jonathan Toews had been invisible, Patrick Kane had one assist and the power play was disastrous.
The Blackhawks remedied all three of those situations in this game.
Toews scored his first goal since Game 5 of the conference semifinal series against the Detroit Red Wings when he made an artful deflection of a Michal Roszival shot past Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask early in the second period that gave the Blackhawks a 2-1 lead.
Minutes later, Kane followed with a goal of his own. Once again, Roszival took a shot from the point. The rebound came out to Bryan Bickell, who fired a quick shot that Rask saved. Kane flashed in, got the puck on his backhand and fired a shot past Rask for a 3-1 Chicago lead.
With Toews and Kane both scoring, the Blackhawks let loose a huge sigh of relief.
Toews said Seabrook has been asking him for a couple days, "What are you thinking about?" Toews' answer: "Scoring goals."— Chicago Blackhawks (@NHLBlackhawks) June 20, 2013
The Blackhawks, who had been held without a goal for 122:26 of action following Patrick Sharp's goal in Game 2, suddenly had three in the first 28:41 of action. They would need all of them and more, because the Bruins would fight back hard.
Milan Lucic got the Bruins within one on a backhand shot over Corey Crawford's glove, but the Blackhawks would not relent.
Marcus Kruger finished off a two-on-one after taking a pass from Michael Frolik. Rask was able to kick out Kruger's first shot, but the forward stopped on a dime, recovered and put the puck into the top of the net on a sensational maneuver.
That two-goal lead might have stopped a lesser team, but the Bruins responded with a power-play goal by Patrice Bergeron to get within one before the end of the second period.
The Blackhawks were hanging by a thread between periods because the Bruins had the momentum and they were facing a 3-1 deficit if they lost the game.
Their fears of failing came closer to reality when Bergeron scored again early in the third after a dominating shift by Jaromir Jagr, who ended up with the primary assist.
But that's when the Blackhawks responded with a power-play goal by Sharp. Their power play had failed on its first 14 opportunities of the series—including the first three in this game—but Sharp slammed home a rebound to give them a 5-4 lead.
That lead lasted just 55 seconds, until Johnny Boychuk rocketed a drive past the glove of Crawford.
All five goals that Crawford allowed came to his glove side. Quenneville was unfazed.
"Corey's been great for us all year, all playoffs," Quenneville said at the postgame press conference broadcast by the NHL Network. "He just moves forward. We got the win and he'll be fine."
But despite his problems, Crawford made a big save in overtime on Brad Marchand that kept the Bruins from winning the game. Moments later, Seabrook came through with his second overtime goal of this playoff year. He had eliminated the Red Wings in Game 7 with another blast.
After the Blackhawks had been outworked by the Bruins in Game 3, they came back dramatically in a number of key areas.
They cut their humiliating 40-16 faceoff deficit to 39-38 and had a 13-11 margin in blocked shots after the Bruins had a 17-7 edge in that area in Game 3.
Quenneville wore the smile of a satisfied coach in this game. He saw his team find its scoring touch, its creativity and its battle level.
That allowed the Blackhawks to regain home-ice advantage. That has not been decisive so far in this series, with each team winning on the other's home ice, but it's something that will allow the Blackhawks to feel relieved as they prepare for Game 5.