BOSTON – In a game which will be talked about for years to come, the Boston Bruins dominated game six of the Stanley Cup Final before slowly allowing Chicago back into the game. With two minutes left, Boston surrendered the game and the series as Chicago scored two goals 17 seconds apart to become the 2013 NHL Champions for the second time in three years.
The Bruins were intent on dictating physical play on the Blackhawks and succeeded most of the game. Boston dominated off the draw winning 71% of the face-offs in the first period while outshooting Chicago 12-6. Chris Kelly’s goal putting Boston ahead just seven minutes into the game was just one successful result to a dominating effort by the home team. Boston had five shots on goal before Chicago registered their first shot on goal over seven minutes into the period. It was clear Boston was prepared to force a game seven and it seemed it would go that way until just over four minutes into the middle period.
That’s when Chicago’s Jonathan Toews broke down the right side after converted a Boston neutral zone miscue into a goal tying the game. The slap shot seemed to surprise Bruins’ goaltender Tuukka Rask as it jumped off Toews’ stick, the effect of a laser beam fired through the five-hole. The goal was the start of an eroding confidence Boston had gradually been losing as the game wore on.
In the second period, Chicago clawed back into the game winning half the face-offs and outshooting Boston 9-6. The Blackhawks killed three penalties to this point without having gained a man advantage. Boston clearly missed an opportunity to take a commanding lead in the opening frame. 17,565 fans at the TD Garden could sense change was in the air.
Despite Boston’s go-ahead goal by Milan Lucic with just under 8 minutes to play, Chicago took a page from the Bruins and responded when their backs were against the wall. With less than two minutes to play and Chicago goaltender Corey Crawford pulled in favor of Michael Handzus, Brian Bickell took a centering pass from captain Jonathan Toews and slipped the puck along the ice through Rask’s legs to tie the game. You could feel the air release from the arena.
On the ensuing draw, the Bruins laid back playing for the win while Chicago, smelling blood in the water. With nothing to lose, the Blackhawks mobilized for the regulation win. Boston seemed comfortable with a tie and overtime, a shockingly complacent stance given the Bruins dominance early in the game.
Chicago attacked right off the draw and finally gained traction with thirty seconds left. After corralling the puck inside the Boston zone, Johnny Oduya fired a shot from the blue line which clipped the post and bounced right back out in front. Dave Bolland swept in chipping the puck over the outstretched paddle of Rask’s stick giving the Blackhawks their first lead of the game just 17 seconds from when they tied it.
While Chicago was clearly the better team in the Final, Boston proved they could skate with the President’s Trophy Champions competing in ways which mark the 2013 Stanley Cup Final arguably the most competitive and entertaining in modern times.
Chicago completed their second championship season in three years, both in the salary-cap area and are expected to remain competitive with their team to remain intact for years to come. Like Chicago, Boston is also expected to compete for the Cup, but they wake up Tuesday morning wondering what might have been had they just continued a tighter defensive play to close out the final few minutes of game six.
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