Stanley Cup Final Game 4: Tuukka Rask roughed up, more notes
Chicago bounces back
The Blackhawks had plenty to celebrate after splitting two games in Boston. Chicago hosts Game 5 on Saturday with the series tied at two apiece instead of in a 3-1 hole. The Blackhawks also atoned for their listless performance in a 2-0 loss in Game 3 on Monday. Chicago had six shots on goalie Tuukka Rask before the Bruins had any. The Blackhawks also came out-hitting and never let up, showing some grit that was lacking in the previous game. While the Bruins rallied to tie it three different times, the Blackhawks never trailed. "They keep coming. They're a hard-working team. They have skill on all their lines," Chicago coach Joel Quennville said. "They have a mobile and active D. They have big shots. Defensively you're always going to get challenged and tested. But I thought we did a better job of our offense putting some pressure on their D."
Maybe the 48-game lockout-shortened schedule was a good thing, because the postseason is getting stretched to the max. Wednesday's game was the 27th overtime game of this year's playoffs, one short of the record set in 1993. That was also the last time three games in the finals went beyond regulation, with Montreal taking all three while beating Wayne Gretzky and the Los Angeles Kings. "It's exciting. Everybody worked so hard tonight. Everybody's worked so hard through the playoffs," said Brent Seabrook, who scored on a slap shot 9:51 into OT. "We're all contributing. It doesn't matter if I score or anybody else scores, it's nice to get the win and move on to the next day." The Blackhawks are 5-2 in OT during the playoffs and the Bruins are 5-3, losing for the first time in an OT game in Boston in these playoffs.
Boston goalie Tuukka Rask's remarkable postseason run stalled on Wednesday night and his shutout streak of more than 129 minutes was long forgotten by the time it was over. Rask had allowed seven goals over the previous seven games before the Blackhawks cracked him in the largest offensive outburst of the series. Chicago had just five goals in the series entering Game 4, and the teams had combined for just 12 before striking for 11 on Wednesday. The final one came on Seabrook's slap shot as captain Jonathan Toews provided a bulky screen in front of Rask as the puck got past him and tucked inside the far post.
"We were just around the net. We were getting inside and found the rebounds," said Toews, who had gone 10 games without a goal before he scored early in the second to put Chicago up 2-1. "Ugly goals, we don't care. We'll find a way. It's something we need to keep doing." Boston coach Claude Julien did not blame Rask for the loss in his postgame comments, but didn't exactly rush to his goalie's defense, either. "I don't evaluate the players publicly here," Julien said. "I look at our whole team and tell you our whole team was average. You can take what you want from that. I think we can be a lot better. We have an opportunity to be better next game. Hopefully, if anything, that makes us even hungrier."
The Bruins made it a long night for Chicago goalie Corey Crawford as well, finding a vulnerable spot on his glove side and targeting it all game. All five of Boston's goals were to Crawford's glove side and the Bruins tested him there one final time in OT on a snap shot by Rich Peverley. Crawford juggled the puck slightly, but held on to it and forced a faceoff. Seabrook scored 19 seconds later and Crawford had another win in the finals despite allowing five goals. "Corey has been great for us all year, all playoffs. He just moves forward," coach Joel Quenneville said. "Commend him. We got the win. You know, he'll be fine."
The Bruins scored a pair of power-play goals, the Blackhawks scored once while a man up and another down a man as special teams finally were a factor. The Blackhawks were scoreless in 11 power plays through the first three games and mired in a 0-for-29 drought before Patrick Sharp scored to put Chicago up 5-4 with 9:41 left in regulation. The goal came just after a 5-on-3 advantage for Chicago expired, but before Boston's Jaromir Jagr could get from the penalty box into the play. The Bruins had killed 27 straight penalties entering the game.
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