Bruins blank Blackhawks 2-0 in Game 3, take 2-1 Final lead
BOSTON — The Blackhawks have been here before, of course — less than a month ago, in fact. Trailing in a series against a defensive-minded team. Sputtering offensively. Hapless on the power play. Frustrations mounting. Their backs closing in on the wall.
But the Boston Bruins are not the Detroit Red Wings.
“A different team, a different series,” defenseman Duncan Keith said.
So never mind the Hawks’ character-defining comeback from a 3-1 series deficit against the Red Wings. The 2-1 series deficit they now face against the Bruins after a deflating 2-0 loss at TD Garden Monday night in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final feels far more desperate all of a sudden.
That’s because Boston controlled the game. Because they won seemingly every puck battle, dominated in the faceoff circle. Because they killed penalties with ease, scored on the power play, and kept the Hawks firing mostly from the perimeter, making life easy on Tuukka Rask in a 28-save shutout.
And because Marian Hossa — one of the world’s best players and a guy who plays in all facets for the Hawks — is injured. Hossa was a surprise scratch — to everyone but his teammates, who said they knew it was a possibility — after unsuccessfully testing a previously undisclosed injury in warmups. He’s merely “hopeful” for Wednesday’s Game 4, in Hawks coach Joel Quenneville’s words.
Suddenly, the brink is drawing near.
“Time’s running out,” Keith said. “We’ve got to get a goal. We just have to come up with a big game and find a way to win.”
It clearly won’t be easy. Not the way the Bruins are playing defensively. Not the way the Hawks are playing offensively.
Zdeno Chara stalked nearly every shift by Jonathan Toews, who found himself starting the game between fourth-liners Marcus Kruger and Michael Frolik, and finishing it by killing a penalty with Patrick Kane. Patrice Bergeron had a goal and won a staggering 24-of-28 face-offs (Michal Handzus lost all 10 of his draws, Dave Bolland was 1-of-8 to go along with his three penalties and key turnover). And the Bruins’ new-look third line of Daniel Paille, Chris Kelly and Tyler Seguin continued to be the best trio on the ice, with Paille — the overtime hero in Game 2 — scoring the first goal of the game early in the second period after picking Bolland’s pocket.
And most maddening of all, the Hawks’ power play continued to founder terribly. In four opportunities, the Hawks mustered no goals on four shots, the best chances coming shorthanded for the Bruins. Their scoreless skid is now at 18 power plays. In contrast, the Bruins’ power play — hardly a juggernaut — had 10 shots and a goal on its four chances.
“It’d be nice to capitalize on our power play, too, one of these days,” Keith said. “There’s been enough talk about it, it’s just time to go and get a goal.”
Even Quenneville couldn’t sugarcoat the power play this time. No talk of “not losing momentum” or any such thing this time. Quenneville was as blunt as he gets.
“Our power play tonight was definitely not good,” he said.
Despite all that — despite the power plays and the faceoffs and the zero on the scoreboard — the Hawks put on a confident face. Toews said, “We did a lot of good things.” Niklas Hjalmarsson said, “We played a pretty solid road game; we just didn’t score any goals.”
Indeed, like they did against Detroit after scoring just two goals in Games 2-4, the Hawks feel they’re close. But Boston’s not Detroit. The Bruins — responsible and structured and talented and physical and deep — are built to protect a lead.
“We keep getting opportunities,” Sharp said. “Keep moving around and get it to the net, we will score sooner or later.”
It had better be soon. Because later will be too late.