Final, 3-1 Blackhawks: An empty-net goal from center ice put this game away, and the Blackhawks lead the series 3-2. The teams will get back at it Monday night, when the Blackhawks have a chance to hoist the Stanley Cup.
Third period, 5:04, 2-1 Blackhawks: The goal-scoring play was so nice that Krejci and Chara thought they’d try it again. This time, though, Chara’s shot was deflected out of harm’s way.
Third period, 8:10, 2-1 Blackhawks: The Bruins are still in it, thanks to Tuukka Rask and his glove hand. He coolly stopped two blasts by Patrick Kane to keep the score at 2-1.
Meanwhile, in bad Bruins news, Patrice Bergeron has been taken to a hospital via ambulance. More info here.
Third period, 16:19, 2-1 Blackhawks: The Bruins, against all odds, have life.
A shift of absolute dominance on the puck leads to David Krejci getting the puck behind the net with time and space to operate. He waited patiently as Zdeno Chara made his way down the left side of the slot. Krejci passed to Chara, who unleashed an absolute missile past Crawford’s glove. What a shift, and give credit to Milan Lucic for his work along the right half-wall to help maintain possession throughout that shift.
Also of note: The Blackhawks have been without their captain, Jonathan Toews, for a few shifts. It’s unknown what’s keeping him off the ice.
Third period, 20:00, 2-0 Blackhawks: If the Bruins are to come back tonight, they’ll have to do it without Bergeron, as he did not make his way onto the bench. That’s, obviously, a huge loss.
End of second period, 2-0 Blackhawks: Chicago spent the second 20 minutes of the game absolutely taking over, and the Bruins are on the ropes.
They’re without Bergeron, they can’t generate any real scoring chances (just five shots in the second period), and they have the high-flying, confident Blackhawks buzzing around them in all three zones.
It’s going to take a near-miracle for the Bruins to climb all the way back in this one. They’ve done that before, obviously, but Bergeron has played a role. If he’s unable to return, it’d be hard to believe it can happen with Carl Soderberg and his six games of NHL experience as the second line center.
Second period, 4:40, 2-0 Blackhawks: Chicago’s heading back on the power play after Adam McQuaid catches Andrew Shaw up high, drawing a roughing call. This one is not looking too good for Boston, to put it nicely.
Second period, 7:26, 2-0 Blackhawks: The Bergeron situation has gotten a bit worse, as he tried to take a shift but quickly returned to the bench. Replays of his injury are unclear, and it could be anything from cramps in his legs to a groin/hamstring/calf pull. It’s impossible to know, but whatever it is, it’s keeping one of the Bruins’ most important players off the ice.
Second period, 11:27, 2-0 Blackhawks: The 2-0 deficit is not the Bruins’ biggest concern right now, as Patrice Bergeron might be injured. Bergeron has missed his last couple of shifts, including time on the penalty kill. Carl Soderberg filled in for him with Jagr and Marchand for one shift, and it’s unclear what is bothering Bergeron at the moment.
The good news for the Bruins is that Bergeron is at least able to stay on the bench. But if he can’t hop over the boards, the Bruins could be in trouble.
Second period, 14:01, 2-0 Blackhawks: Now Chicago goes on the power play, with Seidenberg getting called for boarding on Marcus Kruger.
Second period, 14:47, 2-0 Blackhawks: Patrick Kane yet again, and the Blackhawks lead 2-0.
Bickell, Toews and Kane broke in on a 3-0n-2. Bickell skated behind the net and his pass actually hit off the side of the net before redirecting right to Kane’s stick. He roofed it, and the Blackhawks lead 2-0.
Second period, 19:11, 1-0 Blackhawks: It looked liked the Blackhawks were going on the power play thanks to a hook by Horton, but Chris Rooney called a matching minor on Handzus, hitting him with an unsportsmanlike conduct for diving. Two minutes of 4-0n-4 upcoming.
Second period, 20:00, 1-0 Blackhawks: Second period is under way. Toews won the opening draw.
End of first period, 1-0 Blackhawks: Tyler Seguin was unable to get his stick on a Zdeno Chara rebound, and the two teams head to their lockers rooms with the Blackhawks leading 1-0.
The Bruins have to feel pretty confident in the way they’re playing, with only a fortunate bounce off a broken stick leading to Chicago’s goal. The Bruins could work on creating some better chances, but overall, they’re playing a solid game — especially compared to the last first period they played in this building.
The Bruins have 23 hits, while Chicago has nine, which in this case I believe to be an indication of the effort level the Bruins are at. Essentially, the Bruins have to feel about as great as you can feel while still trailing 1-0, but they still know that one slip-up, and they’ll be in a two-goal hole.
First period, 2:33, 1-0 Blackhawks: The United Center is rocking, thanks to a bounce that goes Chicago’s way.
A Johnny Oduya slap shot hit Dennis Seidenberg’s stick, breaking the stick and bouncing sharply to the left. Rask, who had been out in position to stop the slap shot, was not in position to stop Patrick Kane along the goal line. Kane scored, and the Blackhawks lead 1-0.
First period, 4:46, 0-0: The Blackhawks haven’t been able to get their shots on net, with three missed shots already, leading to some downtime for Rask. However, the netminder was ready to spring into action when Michal Handzus and Patrick Sharp broke in on a 2-on-1. Handzus passed from the right circle to the left, and Sharp let a one-timer fly. Rask threw his body from left to right and made the stop with either his arm, chest or armpit. Where it got him doesn’t matter, because he kept it out to make just his fourth save of the night. It was a big one.
First period, 8:45, 0-0: These two teams are getting physical, and Bryan Bickell seems to always be right in the thick of it. He and Milan Lucic have not been all that friendly to each other, and they exchanged some words near the benches just before the last whistle.
Jaromir Jagr, at this point, looks like he might never score a goal, no matter what he does. He beautifully weaved through two red sweaters off a faceoff and fired a crafty shot on net, but Crawford was there to make the stop. Marchand did his best Jagr impression later, deking to the backhand and putting one on net, but again Crawford was in position for the save.
The Bruins lead in hits 14 to 5.
First period, 13:41, 0-0: Carl Soderberg looks solid early on, helping to generate two scoring opportunities early on. He put a shot on net from the blue line and then fired his own rebound toward net, where Shawn Thornton deflected it on net.
The Bruins caught an early break, too, when Jonathan Toews was all alone along the right post and sent a shot to the far side. It beat Rask, but not the post, bouncing out of harm’s way for the Bruins. Had that shot been two inches to the right, the United Center would have gone crazy. But it wasn’t, and the two teams play on, looking for the first goal of the night.
First period, 20:00: Jonathan Toews won the opening faceoff, and Game 5 is under way.
8:16 p.m.: In a little bit of a curveball, Claude is starting a line of Milan Lucic, Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci. I would expect Bergeron goes out there to take the faceoff and then skate off to let Nathan Horton hop over the boards, but we shall see.
8:06 p.m.: Carl Soderberg will indeed play tonight. This is not surprise to me, because I think Daugavins was just that bad. Blowing the game-winning goal in Game 1, committing a dumb penalty and then botching a 2-on-1 after getting out of the box are the only memorable things Daugavins did this series. He had to go.
As far as the risk of putting an unexperienced player like Soderberg into such a huge game, it’s not a big deal. He’ll be on the fourth line, tasked with using his body to fight to keep the puck deep in the Chicago end, and that’s it. He’s more suited to do that than Daugavins.
I think if all things were equal, Jay Pandolfo would have been the best choice for Claude Julien. But getting those old legs to catch up to this speed after such a long layoff made that move impossible. Soderberg it is.
7:30 p.m.: One thing that might be a safe bet for tonight’s game is a bounceback performance by Tuukka Rask. Four times this postseason, he’s allowed four goals, and in the games that followed, he’s 4-0 with a 1.34 goals-against average and .959 save percentage. If the idea is that he responds well after giving up four goals, I imagine he’ll be even more focused after allowing six.
5:45 p.m.: You hear the term “pivotal” get thrown around all the time whenever a series gets to Game 5, to the point that the word has essentially lost its meaning. And really, the word isn’t the most accurate description of what Game 5 will determine.
While a 3-2 lead is obviously the more desirable position, this particular series feels like it’s destined to go seven games. With a triple overtime game and two other overtimes already, it’s fairly clear that these two teams are as even as even gets.
Historically, when a Cup Final is tied 2-2, the winner of Game 5 has gone on to win the series 68.2 percent of the time since 1939. However, that hasn’t meant much lately, with four of the last six losers of Game 5 in such situations going on to win the whole thing. The Bruins were one of them in 2011, after they lost Game 5 in Vancouver.
What is at stake tonight is the fact that the winner of will have a chance to hoist Lord Stanley’s Cup two days from now in Boston, while the loser will have to play with the pressure of knowing exactly that. However, we’ve got (at least) 60 minutes of hockey to see before we get to that point, so let’s try to enjoy it.
There may be a change in the Bruins lineup, as Claude Julien said this morning he continues to “tinker” with the fourth line. We may see the postseason debut of the famed Carl Soberberg, once a mystery man who ended up playing six games for Boston before the end of the season. It wasn’t enough of a sampling to get a real grasp on the Swede’s game, but the coaching staff may prefer his size and ability to battle along the boards more than Kaspars Daugavins’ style, which hasn’t contributed at all through four games.
I, for one, expect Soderberg to be in there solely to chase Shawn Thornton’s dump-ins and pin pucks deep to give the top two lines a breather every now and again. We’ll see after warmups.
Stay tuned to the live blog for updates from now until one of these teams has a 3-2 series lead.