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In wildly entertaining Game 4, Blackhawks had a little something extra for the Bruins

Posted by Chad Finn, Globe Staff  June 20, 2013 07:15 AM

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All right, looks like it's back to the original plan. Might as well start preparing now.

Dig out the blood-pressure monitor, master a few breathing exercises, read one of Phil Jackson's zen comedies, that sort of thing. Probably should add a nap to the midday schedule as well.

There's going to be a Game 7, and there's going to be overtime in Game 7, and there will probably be overtimes in Game 7.

When it's all over, and one side rejoices in the red light's winning afterglow while the other carries a regret down the tunnel that will never leave, there will be an equivalent of eight full games played, probably nine, and maybe an extra period or two beyond that.

The Boston Bruins and Chicago Blackhawks are much too similar, in talent and resolve, to allow for anything else.

The reminder that the eventual winner of this Stanley Cup Final series will have damn well earned that magnificent trophy in every imaginable respect arrived Wednesday night in the form of a 6-5 overtime victory for the Blackhawks in Game 4.

Brent Seabrook scored the winner at the 9 minute 51 second mark of overtime, rocketing a slap shot that eluded Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask as defenseman Zdeno Chara and suddenly lively Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews jostled in front of him.

The goal evened the series at two wins apiece, with the Blackhawks earning a split in Boston, just as the Bruins did in Chicago. The series, which has featured four overtime periods over three games (1, 2, and 4), returns to the United Center Saturday for Game 5.

Chicago now has home-ice advantage back in its possession, and it also provided a harsh reminder for anyone who was expecting the Bruins to cruise to a second Cup in three years after their suffocating 2-0 victory over the Blackhawks in Game 3.

If Game 3 was anything, it was the outlier, the single undramatic win in a series of relentless tension.

Game 4? Consider it the wakeup call. Not that Claude Julien, ever the grounded, in-the-moment realist, needed one.

"I think before it started everybody knew it was going to be a tight series,'' said the Bruins coach. "I don't think anybody that is a fan of hockey is disappointed right now. We as a hockey club went into Chicago and won Game 2 and had a chance to win Game 1. We have to go in there and win Game 5. We have the ability to do that."

It's not as if the victory came easily to the Blackhawks. They scored first, on Michael Handzus's shorthanded goal at 6:48, but the Bruins got even on Rich Peverley's power-play tally a little less than eight minutes later.

The Blackhawks built a 3-1 lead on goals by Toews and Kane two minutes apart in the electrifying five-goal second period that looked like an NHL '94 game come to life, but the Bruins rallied back again. Milan Lucic cut it to 4-3 with his sixth goal of the postseason at 14:43. Marcus Kruger scored 49 seconds later to build the Chicago advantage back to two, but again the Bruins would not relent.

Patrice Bergeron, whose brief detour to the locker room in the second period temporarily sucked the collective breath out of TD Garden, returned triumphantly and in good health, scoring on on the power play at 17:22, then again at even strength 2:05 into the third.

Back and forth they went. Patrick Sharp, the most consistent of Chicago forwards in this series, put Chicago up 5-4 midway through the third on a power play. But Johnny Boychuk would force the overtime with a blistering shot from outside the right point with 7:46 left in regulation.

Then, Seabrook's shot, and a silent Garden, and suddenly it's a best-of-three series.

"You think you have a good lead at 3-1. They make it 3-2. We score a big goal the next shift. 4-2. Then they score on a power play. It was just kind of back and forth the rest of the game,'' said Kane. "I guess it was just our turn to score again."

And their turn to win again. The Blackhawks have no plans to go quietly, and they're not about to back down from anyone. Even Zdeno Chara, if you believe Toews, who reunited on the first line with Kane for Game 4 and scored his first goal of the series and second of the playoffs.

"You can't give [Chara] too much respect and want to compensate the way you play as a line considering the fact he's out there against you guys,'' said Toews, who scored a goal in the same game as Kane for the first time this postseason.

"I mean, there's certain ways you can expose him. I think the dumpings that we made tonight were going to his side. We made sure we were outnumbering him everywhere we went, taking away his stick-first thing. We just try not to be intimidated by his size. You have to get to the net, find a way inside, not be, like I said, intimidated by that. We can outwork him, and we did that tonight, and we want to continue that."

Imagine that: The Blackhawks are talking of outworking the indefatigable Chara. They pierced Tuukka Rask for six goals. They demand respect, and they deserve respect.

But you know this: so do the Bruins, who spent Game 4 punching and counterpunching, ceding nothing, rallying and rallying and rallying again, nearly stealing a Game 4 that they never led.

The truly amazing thing about this series isn't that three games have gone to overtime -- so far. It's that one game between these two remarkable teams did not.

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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