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Bruins get a few bounces, make a few breaks, and they're back at even strength

Posted by Chad Finn, Globe Staff  June 16, 2013 08:10 AM

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CHICAGO -- One break. One bounce.

One hustle play that ended with the red light aglow, one whistled wrister that resulted in triumphant arms raised skyward.

One shot off the post that finally rang true.

The Bruins needed something, anything, to go their way in this taut, rollicking Stanley Cup Final matchup of two teams so similar that the visiting team will always look like the evil twin.

The break arrived in Saturday night's Game 2, twice, from among the unlikeliest Bruin sources, and after the most hideous of beginnings.

It was imperative that the Bruins head home to Boston at even strength rather than facing an 0-2 deficit against the worthy, accomplished Blackhawks, who won Game 1's one-hour-and-52-minute marathon, 4-3, in three overtimes.

It was Daniel Paille who made sure the Bruins got what they needed.

The speedy forward, whose contribution often has more to do with shutting down goal scorers than finding the net himself, took a feed from Tyler Seguin at 13:48 of overtime, his shot eluding goaltender Corey Crawford's glove and appearing to ricochet off some metal to give the visitors a 2-1 overtime victory.

"He's been our unsung hero,'' Milan Lucic said of Paille, who scored his third goal of the postseason while playing on a reshuffled third line with Seguin and Chris Kelly.

"The bottom six [forwards] have all played together. We're all familiar,'' said Kelly. "[Coach] Claude [Julien] as a pretty good feel for what guys will fit together at a given time."

It was Kelly, and not Paille, who provided the biggest surprise contribution in Game 2. It's not that Kelly, a 32-year-old veteran of nine NHL seasons, lacks accomplishment; he scored a career-high 20 goals last season, and has 100 for his career.

But just three of those goals came during this regular season, and he didn't contribute a single point this postseason through the first 17 games. That changed at 14:58 of the third period, when he punched in a rebound in the slot after a steal and shot by Paille.

Kelly struggled mightily in Game 1, finishing at minus-3 and losing 15 of 22 faceoffs. But Saturday came redemption. For the first time in a long time, Kelly was in the right place at the right time.

"I try to score consistently,'' said Kelly, who after scoring his first goal since April 17 was wearing the Army Ranger jacket awarded by teammates to the player of the game. "For whatever reason, I haven't. So I try to stay positive and other ways. As long as we win, that's what matters. That's how it is in our room.''

One can only imagine how it was in the Bruins' room after the first period, which looked -- and this is no hyperbole -- like a 20-minute Blackhawks power play. The Bruins slogged along as if they'd played a triple-overtime game that morning, with Blackhawks gnat Andrew Shaw reveling early and often as he dodged Zdeno Chara's weary swats.

The Blackhawks put 19 shots on goal. The Bruins? Four. Upon sending the Stat Sheet Investigative Team into action, it turned out that wasn't even the worst of it.

The Blackhawks took 30 shots to the Bruins' five. They outnumbered them in scoring opportunities, 15-1, and Sharp (six shots on goal) and Marian Hossa (five) each out-shot the entire Bruins team.

Yet for all of the rubber launched Tuukka Rask's way, only one eluded him. Patrick Sharp collected a loose puck that escaped a pile-up in front of the net, spun, and snapped it through traffic at the 11:22 mark to put the Blackhawks ahead.

A little more than a minute later, Jonathan Toews appeared to tuck the puck under Rask, but the no-goal call on the ice held up upon video review.

"He said his intention was to blow the whistle,'' said Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville when asked how the official explained the disallowed goal.

Had Rask, who made 18 of his 33 saves in the first period, not been anything less than sensational, Sharp may have had a hat trick before the first intermission.

"It looked like they had more guys out there than we did,'' said Rask. "They were bouncing on every single puck in front of net, had a lot of chances. We definitely played pretty bad. But it was good we were only down by one, and we regrouped after that."

That they did, outshooting the Blackhawks 16-9 over the second and third periods. And in overtime, the ice tilted their way, with the Bruins firing seven shots before Kelly's winner, including a couple of how-did-that-not-go-in? opportunities that Crawford (26 saves) somehow denied.

The most notable came in the first two minutes, when Jaromir Jagr, who played marvelously from the second period on, hit the post in the first two minutes.

The near-miss would have been exasperating had the Bruins lost, and given that he's still looking for his first goal of the playoffs, the question can be asked:

How many posts, crossbars, and other metal-based obstructions to victory has he hit this postseason?

Actually, hold off on that lament, Bruins fans. Jagr hasn't found his bounce, that break, the generous crossbar.

But in Game 2, other Bruins did. And for one reassuring night, it was everything they needed.

About Touching All The Bases

Irreverence and insight from Chad Finn, a Globe/Boston.com sports writer and media columnist. A winner of several national and regional writing awards, he is the founder and sole contributor to the TATB blog, which launched in December 2004. Yes, he realizes how lucky he is.

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