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CHICAGO -- A perfect example of the Boston Bruins not being able to play their style of game was on display during their 6-5 overtime loss to the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup finals Wednesday night at TD Garden.
Only two nights earlier, the Bruins executed their game plan perfectly, and it resulted in a 2-0 win in Game 3. So what happened in a span of 48 hours that changed the complexion of the Cup finals?
It's simple: The Blackhawks' speed caused the Bruins to have an uncharacteristic defensive meltdown, and, even though Boston kept recovering from deficits, it couldn't completely respond the way it needed to in order to be successful and put a stranglehold on Chicago.
Instead, the Blackhawks found ways to beat Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask time and again by limiting his sight with traffic in front, while producing plenty of shots on net.
With the way Rask has played the entire Stanley Cup playoffs, it was strange to see him allow six goals in Game 4.
"They had the legs right off the bat and we didn't," Rask said. "We had some mental mistakes, and the layers weren't there. We got caught standing still a lot of times."
That can't happen again in this series for the Bruins, or their hopes of another championship will not be fulfilled.
"We say it all the time that we believe in ourselves and we believe in our game and we need to go out and play our game and our style and not worry about the other team," Bruins defenseman Adam McQuaid said. "We prepare ourselves for the other team, but we worry about the things we need to do.
|Tuukka Rask is confident he and his teammates will bounce back from their Game 4 loss.|
"We put ourselves in a tough spot a few times, and the game just seemed to open up. We got ourselves back in a position to try to tie the game up or take the lead, but we veered away from our game a little bit at times, and that's something we want to improve on."
The differences between Game 3 and Game 4 for both the Bruins and the Blackhawks were evident. Boston dominated Game 3 in its typical style of play. In Game 4, Chicago responded with a solid win based on the offensive production from Jonathan Toews.
"They were more determined in some plays," Bruins forward Tyler Seguin said. "Again, we weren't really ready at the drop of the puck.
"They made adjustments, and we knew they were going to make them. We just didn't respond correctly. It was a great game played by them. They deserved that win,and we've got to go and earn another one."
Both teams have tried to establish their games early. Each game in this series has been completely different than the others, although it's been exciting hockey throughout. Each team is trying to impose its will and create the pace it wants from the opening drop.
"First shifts are positives for individuals and the team," Seguin said. "The first home game we definitely came out a lot stronger than we did [in Game 4], and we're going to have to go into their barn and steal another one."
When the Bruins won the Cup in 2011, the home team won for the first six games, but Boston dominated the Vancouver Canucks in Game 7 at Rogers Arena and hoisted its first Cup in 39 years.
This spring, the Bruins spilt the first two games in Chicago, and they're hoping for a crucial win here on Saturday. If they can accomplish that, Boston will have the opportunity to celebrate its second Cup title in three seasons Monday on home ice.
Going into the hostile territory of the United Center won't be easy, but the Bruins are confident.
"I don't think it should be an issue," Rask said. "For us, I don't think it matters if we're home or away; we always play good games either place.
"I feel confident we can respond. They played good [in Game 4]. We didn't play our game for the most part. We were standing still and not doing the things we were supposed to do in order to have a chance to win the hockey game. We have to adapt to that."
Rask has been the Bruins' most consistent player during the Stanley Cup playoffs, so seeing him allow six goals would certainly set off an alarm. While the team didn't practice Thursday, Rask spoke about his performance the night before and didn't seem too concerned.
"It's just one game, and you've got to move on," Rask said. "No matter if you let in one goal or six goals; it's a loss. You try to take the positives out of it and move on and try to win the next one."
During the Bruins' Cup run in 2011, ESPN hockey analyst Barry Melrose had a classic line, saying, "You know you've had a great season when there's no out-of-town scores on the scoreboard."
Both the Bruins and Blackhawks are here for a reason. Both teams understand now how this series can be won. It's only a matter of executing.
"It's not rocket science at this point," Rask said.