By Sidney Brown, WARR contributor
Offsetting the 11-goal offensive explosion in the previous game, Saturday’s Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Finals was a tightly-checked, defensive-minded game, one the Chicago Blackhawks mustered out a 3-1 victory in to take a 3-2 series lead and put itself one win away from the Cup.
Game 5 started out with both teams trying to establish their styles, but the Hawks were patient and it paid off with Patrick Kane netting his first goal of the game (17:27, 1st period), giving the Hawks a 1-0 lead. The Bruins were physical, outhitting the Hawks 22-9 and out-shooting them 11-8 at the end of the first period, but they could not stop Kane on this night.
Late in the second period, Kane tallied home his second goal of the game and ninth of the playoffs (5:13, 2nd period) to increase Chicago’s lead 2-0. With their backs against the wall, the Bruins ramped up their physical play and it showed as they knocked around key Hawks players, including captain Jonathan Toews, who took a particularly tough hit late in the 2nd by Bruins defenseman Johnny Boychuk. Toews did return to the bench in the third period but did not see any ice time for the remainder of the game.
As the third period began, the Bruins grabbed momentum and were rewarded with their only goal of the game from star defenseman Zdeno Chara, his third of the playoffs, off of a sweet pass from David Krejci, cutting the deficit in half at 2-1. The Hawks suddenly found themselves scrambling to keep up with the Bruins’ energy and for a while they were playing not to lose. The Bruins made one last push in the closing seconds of the third as they pulled their goalie, but Hawks winger Dave Bolland took advantage of the empty net and nailed in a score (19:46) to clinch the a 3-1 victory in front of a sellout crowd of 22,274 at the United Center.
Both goalies bounced back from shaky performances in Game 4, the Bruins’ Tuukka Rask kept his team in the game but received no help from the offense. Rask collected 29 saves off 31 shots with a save percentage of .935%. On the other side, Hawks goaltender Corey Crawford took charge in making 24 saves while posting a .960% save percentage, looking more like a Conn Smythe Trophy (Playoff MVP) front runner if the Hawks finish this Cup run properly.
My Game Puck for Game 5 goes to Kane for providing the majority of the offense with his two goals, he’s heating up at the right time.
Game 6 is set for Monday night in Boston’s TD Garden at 7 pm central time on NBC. Since the Stanley Cup Finals went to a best of seven format in 1939, the winners of Game 5 in a previously deadlocked series have won 15 out of 22 occasions.
First, to the Bruins penalty kill for blanking the Hawks on their man advantage 0-2.
Second, to the Bruins first line goal scorer Milan Lucic who lead the team with eight hits in Game 5.
Third, to the Hawks for winning the faceoff battle 34-29.
Next, to Hawks winger Bryan Bickell for tallying a team high six hits to go along with one assist Saturday night. Also, to Hawks captain Toews for collecting two assists playing only two periods before leaving the game with an injury. The Hawks are 4-0 in Game 5s this postseason and 11-2 at home in the playoffs.
Last but not least, props to actress Michelle Pfeiffer who along with TV producer husband David E. Kelley were in attendance for Game 5 and wearing Blackhawks gear. To that I say, SWEET!
(Hopefully, it will be only a matter of time before a member of the Blackhawks appears in a movie. Michelle, get your hubby to write something good and help out the NHL in promoting the sport.)
First, the Hawks power play went 0-2 in game five. Fortunately, win or lose, it won’t be much longer before I won’t have to report on this statistic anymore.
Second, the Bruins supposed young stud scorer Tyler Seguin netted one hit and one shot on goal. Seguin is one player in particular who needs to step in Game 6 in order to help the Bruins save their season.
Next, Bruins prime scorers Nathan Horton, Jaromir Jagr and Brad Marchand combined for a total of five shots on goal with no points Saturday. These normally prime-time players have no choice but to step up and score goals in front of their home fans in Game 6 unless they don’t want to play any more games after Monday.
Last but not least, Bruins forward Patrice Bergeron, who played only two shifts, left Game 5 in the second period and the United Center in an ambulance. If Bergeron, who has been a Hawks killer in this series, cannot go Monday, the Bruins will have trouble scoring and winning faceoffs. Bergeron has dominated the Hawks in the faceoff category, especially in Game 3, where he won the majority of his matchups.
With the Stanley Cup within arms reach for the Chicago Blackhawks, Game 6 should be approached by this team like a Game 7. Boston’s superstar (Bergeron) is on the shelf so now is the time for the Hawks to go for the kill , you know that the Bruins will play with a sense of urgency, not wanting their season to end on their home ice.
The questions leading up to Game 6 include: Can the Hawks finish the task at hand? What lineup changes do the Bruins make without Bergeron? Will the scoring for the Bruins heat up in front of their home crowd? Can Corey Crawford prove the haters wrong one more time as the Hawks close in on the cup?
Game 6 should be a classic and don’t be surprised if it goes into overtime just as Game 6 did against Philadelphia in 2010.
If the Hawks play their game and control the pace, there’s no reason why they shouldn’t win their second cup in four years.
Follow Regal Radio on Twitter @regalradio1 and look for Sidney’s tweets during the remaining Hawks and Bruins matchups.