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Saturday, June 15, 2013
Hawks take step back after first period

By Jesse Rogers

Patrick Sharp
Patrick Sharp's first-period goal got the Hawks on the board but it went downhill from there.
CHICAGO -- First the Chicago Blackhawks lost momentum, then they lost the lead and finally the game, falling 2-1 in overtime to the Boston Bruins in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup finals on Saturday.

The first 20 minutes were vintage Hawks. Speed with the puck and shots on net. A lot of them. Only one of 19 got past Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask, though. That came back to haunt them.

"When you score a goal and are playing the way we were playing in the first period, you need to find a way to sustain that, and we didn't quite do that tonight," Jonathan Toews said.

Nineteen shots in the first period were more than the Hawks had the rest of the game. They finished with just 34 on the night. The shots dried up and so did the scoring chances. Slowly, Boston took the momentum away.

"The message was basically to wake up," Bruins defenseman Dennis Seidenberg said. "We really slept through the first period and didn't play very well."

The same could be said of the Hawks in overtime. At the most critical time of the night, the Hawks let the Bruins skate all over them.

"I don't think we played well enough to win that one in overtime at all," Brent Seabrook said. "We played well in the game, but in overtime they had lots of chances."

And eventually they cashed in on one, when Hawks forward Brandon Bollig couldn't clear a puck, allowing a counterattack which Daniel Paille finished. So we know what happened, now we need to know why. Why did the Hawks come out on fire only to slow down as the game went on, especially after Boston scored to tie it in the second period?

"When they scored all of a sudden they played really well," Marian Hossa said. "They played a smart hockey game and in overtime they had lots of chances. They're a great hockey team."

OK, so Boston had something to do with it. But still, the Hawks could have pushed back. Where was it after the first period?

"We just didn't continue to play the way we'd been playing," Toews said. "We let them have the puck a little too often. We didn't move our feet. We were too easy to check."

Maybe it came too easy in the first. When that happens sometimes the intermission itself can slow a team down. Maybe the Hawks felt they would pick up right where they left off. It's not that easy, of course, and without scoring at least one more goal in the first period the Hawks couldn't afford to relax. Yet they did.

"Yeah, it's playoffs, got to push for that two-goal lead, but we can do a better job of protecting a one-goal lead," Patrick Sharp said.

Sharp scored the Hawks' lone goal after a frenzy in front of Rask that was indicative of the first period. It was probably the last kind of net chaos they produced for the night. Their advantage simply vanished.

"We had a perfect start to the game, and we stopped doing what made us successful," coach Joel Quenneville said. "We stood around, they countered. I thought we slowed ourselves down. I don't think we got the puck behind them. I think we were in front of them too much. I think that played into their hands."

That pretty much sums it up. The greatness of hockey is the momentum swings. Sometimes you get it back, and sometimes you give it up for good. As well as the Hawks played in the first period, it's only 20 minutes of good hockey. Next time, it needs to last longer.

"We were going to throw everything at the net and we were going to get those opportunities," Dave Bolland said. "When they don't come, you do get that little bit of frustration. But things like that happen. It's hockey."

And it means we have a series.