By Sidney Brown, WARR contributor
Boston Strong was what Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Finals was all about as the Bruins returned home and dominated the Chicago Blackhawks with a 2-0 victory, taking a 2-1 series lead.
Before the game, Hawks winger Marian Hossa was injured during warmups and was immediately replaced by Ben Smith and Viktor Stalberg was inserted into the lineup on the fourth line replacing Brandon Bollig. On the other side, Bruins captain Zdeno Chara collided with teammate Milan Lucic but was okay to play. As the first period began, the Hawks came out with a little bit of urgency, but it wasn’t enough as the Bruins once again ramped up their forecheck playing and kept up their strong defense, killing any momentum that the Hawks would have in generating offense.
The pressure the Bruins offered gave them a 11-10 shots on goal advantage at the end of the first period as well as a 17-5 domination of faceoffs. Just as in Game 2, the Bruins took control of the game, delivering goals from Saturday’s overtime hero Daniel Pallie (2:13) and Patrice Bergeron (14:05) in the 2nd period, Bergeron’s coming on the power play and giving the home team all the cushion it needed.
The 3rd period would see the Hawks collect two power play opportunities, but as the story has been throughout these playoffs, Chicago just came up empty. Chaos entered the game’s equation towards its end when Chara, the Bruins captain, went face to face with Hawks winger Bryan Bickell while Hawks winger Andrew Shaw delivered a series of punches to Bruins assistant captain Brad Marchand. I guess at this point the Hawks discovered their “energy,” a fine time seeing as the game was already over figuratively.
The Hawks out-shot the Bruins 35-28 for the game, but their strategy must change in Game 4. Just out-shooting Boston is not going to be enough if they’re going to even this series. As for the goaltenders, Hawks netminder Corey Crawford played well but he was beaten by Boston’s attack going side to side on both 2nd period goals. As usual, Crawford kept his team in the game with no offense, collecting 33 saves and a save percentage of .943% on the night. Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask was outstanding, facing 28 shots and stopping all of them to tally his third shutout of the playoffs. Without much traffic in front of him, Rask never had difficulty seeing the puck from Chicago and for that he receives my Game Puck for Game 3.
Game 4 takes place Wednesday night back at the TD Bank Garden at 7 pm central on the NBC everyone gets.
First, to the Bruins power play for going 1-4 with their man advantage.
Second, to the Bruins penalty kill unit for blanking the Hawks on their man advantage 0-5. The Bruins have killed off 27 straight penalties in the playoffs dating back to Game 5 against the New York Rangers in the 2nd round.
Third, to Bruins winger Jaromir Jagr for collecting his 197th career playoff point in the second period Monday, moving to fifth place on the NHL’s all time playoff scoring list.
Next, to Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference, Dennis Seidenberg and fourth line enforcer Shawn Thornton, who each led the team with four hits apiece and set the physical tone for Game 3.
Last but not least, with the Game 3 victory, the Bruins have won seven consecutive home playoff games.
First, the Hawks power play unit went 0-5 with their man advantage. This statistic is the reason why they’re trailing 2-1 in this series. After playing beyond the horrible power play for the rest of the postseason, this problem has finally caught up to the Hawks and it must be solved IMMEDIATELY!
Second, the Hawks penalty kill unit gave up a power play goal in the second period, making it 1-4 for the game. With the power play being as bad as its been, the Hawks power play kill has no choice but to be perfect and 1-4 isn’t perfect.
Third, with the loss Monday, the Hawks road record stands at 3-5, a little less than you’d like from a potential Cup champion.
Last but not least, Hawks third liner Dave Bolland received three separate penalties, one which led to Boston’s lone power play goal in the second period. Dumb penalties will kill you every time and hopefully the Hawks have learned that lesson.
With Game 4 now on the horizon, the questions that loom ahead include — Can the Hawks power play escape life support? Will Tuukka Rask stand on his head once again? Will the Hawks manage a performance with desperation and urgency for 60 minutes or more? Will Coach Quenneville make anymore lineup adjustments? Will Marian Hossa return? And will the Bruins put a strangle hold on this series before heading back to Chicago for Game 5?
The Hawks must treat this game like a seventh game — if you lose on Wednesday, coming back home trailing 3-1 in this series would be a tragedy. Doing it against Detroit is one thing, but coming back from this kind of a hole again would very tough considering the kind of opponent Boston is. The Bruins are playing for the Cup for a reason and now it is time to stand up and take charge Chicago, that’s what champions do.
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