|ESPN.com: NHL Playoffs 2013||[Print without images]|
CHICAGO -- As reporters hustled toward the postgame locker rooms, a veteran hockey broadcaster turned to me and said, "I'm just glad it's over."
Allegiances be damned, no one wanted another three-overtime game.
There were planes to catch and stories to write and beds to enjoy and a lot more hockey to play in this series.
|Patrick Sharp had a team-high seven shots and scored the lone Hawks goal.|
If you love sudden death hockey, this is the series for you. Anyone else see overtime in Game 7 in our future?
The second game of the Stanley Cup finals ended early in comparison to the first. It was midway through one overtime when Boston's Daniel Paille scored on Corey Crawford to ice a 2-1 victory, tying the series going back to Boston. Game 3 is Monday evening.
It was just the second home loss for the Blackhawks and the first since May 18, Game 2 of the Red Wings series.
"No one said it was going to be easy, no one said everything was going to go our way," Jonathan Toews said.
Well, after the first period, it looked pretty easy.
Chicago got off to a blazing start, showing its team speed and finishing with a 19-4 shots on goal advantage in the first period. But all those chances only resulted in a 1-0 lead. A second goal in the first period was disallowed, reviewed and upheld. Officials ruled that a whistle stopped play before the puck trickled in.
A two-goal lead would've been key. But the Hawks could never get that one back.
The final shot tally was Blackhawks 34, Bruins 28. Crawford, who was fantastic as usual, got plenty of chances. The Blackhawks stopped challenging Boston goaltender Tuukka Rask, as Chicago went from not converting chances to not making any. Not exactly a recipe for winning a Cup against rugged Boston, is it?
"We stopped playing the attack game," said Patrick Sharp, who scored the lone goal, his ninth of the playoffs, and tied for the team lead with seven shots. "The way we can be successful is using our speed and attacking offensively. For whatever reason we didn't do that."
Sharp's goal showed the kind of effort they needed to beat Rask. The Hawks peppered him with a handful of shots and Sharp got a rebound, skated back toward the faceoff circle, spun and fired a goal to the far post.
That kind of action continued into the second period, but then went away.
"We didn't move our feet with the puck, we were too easy to check," Jonathan Toews said.
And the power play? As usual, it was nonexistent. I'm starting to wonder how hockey smart the home crowd is when it cheers for the man advantage. When they start booing it, then I'll know this is a real hockey town.
We stopped playing the attack game. The way we can be successful is using our speed and attacking offensively. For whatever reason we didn't do that.” -- Patrick Sharp
The Blackhawks had won six straight at home, so maybe they just figured they'd turn it on at some point after the Bruins tied it up.
So maybe their downfall was old-fashioned overconfidence. Maybe it was a lack of desperation. Maybe they just played stupid.
Or maybe it was just, you know, Stanley Cup finals hockey. After all, more people picked Boston to win this series after their vivisection of Pittsburgh.
"They're a good team, they're tough to play against any period of the day," Sharp said. "They protect their net well. For all the talk about how big and strong and physical they are, they move well too. It's a tough challenge, but we did it in the first period. I'd like to think we could do it in all three."
History doesn't favor the Blackhawks. According to the postgame notes, Game 2 winners have won the Cup in 55 of 73 seasons since the best-of-seven format began. That's 75.3 percent for you humanities majors. That's held true in eight of the past 10 seasons, but this is the first split of the first two games since 2004.
It's fair to say the first period did more for the visitors. To withstand that barrage and be down 1-0 showed the worst was behind them.
"Not much needed to be said after that first period," Bruins center Chris Kelly said. "I think Tuukka pointed out that was a pretty terrible period by our team. If it wasn't for Tuukka, it would have been a lot worse. To a guy in there, I think we all knew we had to go out and play better."
Kelly tied the game, scoring on Paille's rebound midway through the second period.
That's basically when the momentum shifted Boston's way. The ice was tilted in the Bruins' favor for much of the game, especially in overtime.
"I thought we slowed ourselves down," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "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."
Compared to the gassed-out hockey we witnessed at the end of Game 1, Saturday's overtime period was chock full of exclamation points.
Jagr hits the post!
Lucic with the chance!
Just watching the action made me feel like a real-life hockey broadcaster.
This loss wasn't really about effort as much as it was about one good hockey team outplaying the other. These games are long, and as the Hawks knew, when you have chances to pile on, you have to convert.
The Blackhawks had a golden chance to put themselves two wins from another parade, another Cup. They don't need to use this as motivational fuel. They just need to give themselves more chances to bang home goals via sniper shots, deflections or, as in Game 1, Andrew Shaw's shin pad.
"You've got to kind of swallow this one and move on," Sharp said. "We know what's on the line in this series. Going to Boston is going to be tough, but we've got to be ready for the challenge and find a way to be better for Game 3."