By Sidney Brown, WARR contributor
Only the strong survive at this point of the NHL playoffs and that statement was exhibited by the Chicago Blackhawks in winning a triple overtime Game 1 in the Stanley Cup Finals over a Boston Bruins team that looks to be painfully and evenly-matched with them.
Game 1, which finished 3-2 off an Andrew Shaw deflection at 12:08 in the 3rd overtime (or the sixth period), was the fifth-longest game in Stanley Cup Finals history. If you’re a Hawks fan, things didn’t start off great as Bruins first line winger Milan Lucic scored his fourth goal of the playoffs (13:11, 1st period) to give the road team an early 1-0 lead.
With the Bruins controlling the pace and in the process out-shooting the Hawks 11-8 at the end of the first, that momentum carried into the second period when Lucic struck again with his second goal of the game and fifth of the playoffs under a minute into the period giving Boston a two goal cushion. The Hawks stayed patient throughout the period and it would paid off as Calder Trophy candidate (Rookie Of the Year) Brandon Saad scored his first career playoff goal at 3:08 in the second, cutting the lead in half (2-1). The Bruins weren’t done with they’re scoring yet as the third period began. Patrice Bergeron netted his sixth goal of the playoffs on the power play at 6:09 in the third, giving Boston a two-goal advantage once again.
Trailing late in the game, the Hawks displayed their championship mettle as they received goals from Dave Bolland (8:00) and Johnny Oduya (12:14) within a five-minute stretch midway through the third period that tied the game at 3-3 and would start this epic battle into its overtime destiny. As overtime began, both teams traded scoring chances but nothing came about. As the second overtime came about, fatigue seemed to start to set in on both sides and this classic game would continue into a third overtime.
The Hawks had just a little juice left and the Bruins tried to keep up but it wasn’t enough. As the clock struck midnight central time, Shaw delivered the game winner, his fifth score of the playoffs, to give the home team a hard-earned victory and early series advantage. Both goalies didn’t have great starts, but both kept their teams in the game, especially by making key save after key save in overtime. Bruins goalie Tukkaa Rask collected 59 saves off 63 shots with a save percentage of .937%. On the other side, Hawks goaltender Corey Crawford made 51 saves, tallying a save percentage of .944%.
For his performance in the overtimes, my Game Puck for Game 1 goes to Crawford for a job well done and a strong finish after a tough start.
Game 2 takes place after a well-earned two day break for both teams on Saturday night at the United Center at 7 pm on the NBC Sports Network
First, to Bruins leading scorer David Krecji for netting two assists in Game 1, adding to his league-leading total in playoff scoring (14 assists, 23 points).
Second, to the Bruins power play for going 1-3 with their man advantage.
Next, to former Blackhawk Tony Amonte, now a member of the media working as an analyst for Comcast Sportsnet New England with Mike Felger for their pregame and postgame coverage. Amonte, a native of Boston, was one of my favorite Hawk players growing up and its too bad he had to play on many bad teams during his time Chicago and wasn’t able to have his own championship moment here.
Last but not least, to the 22,110 Hawks fans at the United Center. From the National Anthem, to the Hawks rallying in third to tie the game, to surviving the overtimes and witnessing the game-winning goal by Shaw in the third overtime, all I have to say is THUMBS UP! The Hawks are now 10-1 at home in the playoffs, which is tops in the NHL.
First, the Blackhawks power play went 0-3 with their man advantage. Need I say more?
Second, Hawks superstars Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane combined for 0 points in Game 1.
Third, Bruins third line winger Tyler Seguin tallied up eight shots on goal with one assist. With his talent, Seguin should be creating more scoring opportunities for himself.
Next, the Bruins’ having two power play chances in the overtimes and not capitalizing on any of them. With a tight game like this, chances like those don’t come up very often and those mishaps cost the Bruins Game 1.
Last but not least, Bruins first line winger Nathan Horton leaving the game in overtime with an upper body injury. If Horton can’t hit the ice for any serious length of time, the Bruins chances of winning this series will drop tremendously.
With an extra day between Games 1 and 2, questions that loom overhead include — can the Bruins recover from a devastating loss and play a full winning 60 minute contest? Will the power play ever get going for the Hawks? Will Kane and Toews step up scoring wise? Will the Bruins find success by getting more physical with the Hawks? And will the Hawks get off to a better start in the first period Saturday? We’ll see Saturday night.
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