BOSTON – Chicago came out determined in Game 4, you could see it in their skating and you could almost read their body language. After 5:18 of continuous action and no whistles, the Blackhawks had five shots on their nemesis in this series, Tuukka Rask. When the whistle finally blew it was Hawk defenseman Johnny Oduya who was sent off for interference with the games first penalty, putting Boston on the power play.
The Hawks however, were the team with the power in the first period up to this point, and they cashed in on a shorthanded goal by Michal Handzus on a beautiful pass from Brandon Saad. Saad would play a larger role later in the period. The sixth shot of the period at the 6:48 mark put the Blackhawks up 1-0 and surely gave them a confidence boost that had been in short supply.
The Bruins did finally register a shot and at one point David Krejci missed an open net after a Torey Krug shot from the point. With just 7:48 left in the period the Bruins offense was ineffective with just two shots on Corey Crawford.
Things got a little rough at the 12:45 mark as Chris Kelly was tied up along the boards in the Chicago end with Duncan Keith and while Kelly was pushing and shoving, Andrew Shaw came in an unleashed a wicked two hand slash on Kelly. All three went to the box giving the Bruins another power play. Torey Krug had Crawford beat and hit the post with the man advantage.
About two minutes later Brandon Saad lost an edge and fell down in the Hawks end and Rich Peverley scored on a beautiful wrist shot tying the game at 1-1. Peverley got his second goal of the postseason with an assist from Andrew Ference, but clearly it was Saad who deserved the helper. After the goal Brad Marchand had words with Bryan Bickell, who seems to chat with all the Bruins. Tyler Seguin still looking for his first goal nearly got it on a great wrist shot that nearly beat Crawford. Handzus and Krejci had a long winded conversation that needed the referee to disrupt before they both headed to their respective benches. The pushback the Hawks lacked in Game 3 was apparent in tonight’s game.
Boston was carrying the play and several hustling efforts by Krug and Kelly got an up rise from the sold out TD Garden crowd. At 18:16 Nathan Horton got a slashing penalty that put Chicago on their dreaded power play, one in which they haven’t scored since Game 2 of the Western Conference final against the Kings. It was negated quickly though when Rich Peverley knocked the puck out of his own end and raced after it and forced Keith to haul him down just 40 seconds later at 18:58. Shots at the end of the first period favored Chicago 12-9.
The second period began with a near goal by Nathan Horton after good work by his line mate Milan Lucic. Chicago coach, Joel Quenneville, called a surprising timeout just 1:13 into the period. At 2:32, Seguin made a diving play in his own end to nullify a nice chance by Duncan Keith and with the crowd going wild after recognizing the fine play by Seguin, Zdeno Chara and his counterpart Jonathan Toews exchanged pleasantries. Bryan Bickell intervened but was met by Dennis Seidenberg and things quieted quickly. At 6:33, Toews got revenge by scoring his second playoff goal making the score 2-1, Blackhawks. The goal was scored on a nice tip by Toews on a point shot by defenseman Michal Rozsival. It was just Toews second playoff goal in the post season.
Rask was tested again by Patrick Sharp but made a beautiful save, but just about two minutes after Toews goal, Patrick Kane scored to make it 3-1. There was a crowd in front of the net when Kane came in and backhanded in a beauty as Chris Kelly desperately tried to get a stick on him at 8:41. That goal led Bruin coach Claude Julien to call a timeout for his team. No sooner was the timeout over with when the Bruins got a too many men on the ice penalty. Rask was called on again to make a fabulous left pad save on Marian Hossa. Boston was able to kill the penalty for the 29th time in a row. With 7:20 left in the period the shots stood at 20 -12 with the Hawks in control.
After another beautiful save by Rask on Patrick Sharp, Milan Lucic ignited the crowd with his 6th goal of the playoffs at 14:43 with an assist from “Big Z”. Chara’s shot was stopped by Corey Crawford but Lucic was there to pounce on the rebound to edge closer at 3-2 with a little over five minutes to play.
With the crowd still on its feet, Marcus Kruger put the Hawks up by two goals again with his 3rd goal of the playoffs. The goal was scored after a magnificent save by Rask but Kruger got his own rebound and backhanded it in with assists to Michael Frolik and Dave Bolland. Chicago got their two goal lead back at 4-2 in just 49 seconds, but it was short lived.
After a nifty glove save on Horton by Crawford, it was Patrice Bergeron who got his 8th goal at 17:22 to bring the Bruins back yet again at 4-3, ending a wild scoring second period. Chara’s shot from the point went over the net then bounced on top of the net right out to Bergeron who finished it off for a power play goal. Patrick Kane was in the box for hooking. The series has been very low scoring, so for there to be five goals in one period was really astounding. The Bruins carried the play for the duration of the period and Chris Kelly actually just missed an open side of the net just as he was pushed by Rozsival. The wild period ended with the shots still favoring Chicago 25-20.
The third period began with Jaromir Jagr almost stuffing one past a prone Crawford at the 1:02 mark. That effort was rewarded at 2:05 when Bergeron scored his second goal of the game and tied it up at 4-4. Bergeron’s 9th goal was a result of hard work by Jagr and their line maintaining possession in the Chicago zone. The Craw….ford chant was back again at full strength at the TD Garden.
Bobby Orr made his appearance on the video scoreboard and got the crowd going again. Rask was tested several times including a glove/post save and a point blank slap shot by Viktor Stalberg that he stood up to. Each team received penalties around the 9:00 mark. Toews went off for high sticking and was followed to the box by Jagr for the same infraction. The game was feisty all night with animosity boiling under the surface. Lucic had a bad give away but was bailed out by Rask as Kane got a clean quality chance. David Krejci received a hooking call at 10:20 soon after Jagr’s infraction, giving the Hawks a brief five on three opportunity. As Jagr came out of the box, Patrick Sharp scored a power play goal making it 5-4 with about nine minutes to go in the game.
Johnny Boychuck took matters into his own hands about a minute later when he blasted a howitzer past Crawford to tie it up at 5-5. Nathan Horton and David Krejci assisted on Boychuck’s 6th goal of the playoffs. The third period ended at 5-5 with Boston getting the better of the chances but this affair was going to go to overtime. Shots were now 41-27 with Chicago having the advantage at the end of the third period.
Overtime allowed both teams’ opportunities and each team had chances to end it and head back to Chicago for Game 5 on Saturday night. At the 9:11 mark, each team had four shots on goal, with Chicago having the best chance as the puck slid just inches away from the net at one point. Ten seconds later at 9:01 it was over as defenseman Brent Seabrook of the Blackhawks beat Rask from the point, as Chara perhaps screened him. For Seabrook it was his 3rd goal of the playoffs, for Chicago it was a relief to finally beat Rask and the Bruins and tie up the series at two games apiece. The final score, Chicago 6 Boston 5. The three stars of the game were Patrick Kane, Patrice Bergeron, and tonight’s hero Brent Seabrook. See you in the Windy City on Saturday night for Game 5.