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CHICAGO -- A timely decision by coach Claude Julien saved the Boston Bruins from potentially facing a two-games-to-none deficit in the Stanley Cup finals to the Chicago Blackhawks.
After Boston suffered through its worst start to a game in the Stanley Cup playoffs with an awful first period, Julien decided to tweak his lines and put Daniel Paille, Chris Kelly and Tyler Seguin together.
It worked. That trio produced both goals as the Bruins rallied to beat the Blackhawks 2-1 in overtime to even the best-of-seven series at one game apiece.
"We didn't have much going. At one point I thought that line would give us something," explained Julien. "They responded well and got both goals tonight. It's a hunch from a coach. I know Dan is a great skater, can make a lot of things happen. Seguin after the first period was one of the guys that picked up his game. Kelly was one of the guys that was good right from the start. I put those three guys together and they answered."
|Tyler Seguin, Chris Kelly and Daniel Paille celebrate Kelly's game-tying goal in the second period.|
Paille scored the winner at 13:48 of the extra period, with Seguin earning an assist. Earlier, Paille set up Kelly's goal at 14:58 of the second period to tie the game at 1-1.
They collectively gave the Bruins a much-needed spark to get back into this series. Seguin, who has struggled in the playoffs with just one goal, played his best game of the postseason. He was strong on the forecheck. He was backchecking and was creating chances.
"He was huge for us," Paille said. "He's definitely taken some heat but he is a special player and he can step up for all of us, and hopefully this is a step forward for him.
"You've seen him grow huge as a player, and it's a bit frustrating for him right now that he hasn't scored like he has, but we're not too worried about him. We know that he's a special player and he can, and it's just a matter of time for him."
Paille's relentless style of play and speed created both goals, while Kelly was finally rewarded with his first goal of the playoffs and his first point since April 17.
Chicago completely dominated the first period, outshooting the Bruins 19-4. Chicago peppered Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask time and again, but only Patrick Sharp was able to find the net. The Bruins were lucky to be down only 1-0 after the opening period.
Julien made the lineup change, and it proved crucial on Kelly's game-tying goal.
Paille gained control on the forecheck behind the Chicago net and deked around Blackhawks defenseman Nick Leddy for a wrap-around attempt. Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford closed off the near post and stopped Paille's bid, but the rebound trickled to the top of the crease for Kelly, who crashed the net and tied it at 1-1.
"Well, I think on my goal it was a great five-guy effort," Kelly said. "Andrew [Ference] made a pinch, Tyler was in on the play and got it to Daniel, and Daniel took it to the net. I just happened to be there, tapped it in. You know, I thought Paille played extremely well the whole night. His goal, great pass by Segs. I thought both of them played extremely well. Their feet were moving the whole night."
On the game-winning tally, that line proved crucial again as Paille finished off a nice pass from Seguin.
"As soon as I got it off I knew I had a good shot, and I'm just glad it went in," Paille said.
When that goal went in, especially after playing a total of 10 periods in the first two games, the Bruins erupted on the bench.
Aferward, they praised Paille for his efforts.
"He's been our unsung hero all year long," said Bruins forward Milan Lucic. "He scored some big goals during the year and he scored a big goal in Game 3 against New York. He's been a big part of our team since we got him, and it's great to see him get rewarded with his hard work tonight."
As far as the chemistry among Paille, Kelly and Seguin, Paille said it was as simple as focusing on just playing.
"I think we just stopped thinking and started playing and realized we had to help the team a little bit," Paille said. "That goes well when you stop thinking and play with your natural ability."
It was evident that Seguin was playing with confidence. Julien has talked with Seguin a few times of late, telling the young forward what he needs to do in order to help the Bruins win. Despite the lack of offensive production, Julien has been praising the other aspects of Seguin's game the entire postseason.
"Anytime you're contributing with results is going to boost your confidence," Seguin said. "Obviously, I've been staying consistent, wanting to stay consistent whether it's momentum from our team or keep creating opportunities. It's the Stanley Cup finals and results are all that matters, so it was nice to see that happen.
"Right now I'm just trying to work harder every day and keep pushing for wins and doing what I can."
A main reason why the Bruins have become perennial winners the past few seasons is the team's ability to receive contributions from everyone in the lineup. In Game 1 of the Cup finals, it was the Blackhawks' bottom two lines that produced. In Game 2, it was Boston's turn.
"That's what happens in the playoffs. The top two lines are going to do everything for you, but the difference is going to be the bottom two," Paille said. "The last game we weren't the best, and we had to step up for this game."