Sunday’s Blackhawks-Bruins game had little significance in the grand scheme of things–a mid-season matchup between teams from separate divisions.
So, why were hearts racing during a mid-day January game?
It felt like last June.
The game–the first meeting of the 2013 Stanley Cup Finals challengers–held the kind of intensity that is usually reserved for playoff hockey.
Fortunately for Chicago, it held the same result.
The Blackhawks could use the points and a boost of confidence right now. They’ve had difficulty holding on to leads and despite a mighty win over the top Anaheim Ducks Friday, haven’t shown much consistency.
Winning only two of the last six games leading up to Sunday, the Hawks did have something to prove.
And with memories of their last meeting at TD Garden, so did Boston.
Marian Hossa opened the game just 4:13 into the first with his 20th goal of season. The teams were head-to-head for the rest of the period with the Blackhawks narrowly leading in shots and the Bruins ahead in hits. Bruin Brad Marchand scored with less than a minute left.
Just 50 seconds into the second period, Marchand tallied another goal, giving the Bruins the lead. About five minutes later, Blackhawks Captain Jonathan Toews broke his stick on a shot, tossed it behind him in frustration sending it into the stands, and landed himself in the box for 10 minutes — a player misconduct for the rarely seen “Throwing Equipment” rule.
About halfway through the second, Brandon Bollig tied it back up at two.
Though the rest of the regulation and overtime was scoreless, there wasn’t time for taking breaths.
Bruin Ryan Spooner led the shootout and was stopped by the left goalpost.
Toews handily scored on goalie Tuukka Rask, but Corey Crawford stopped Patrice Bergeron and Rask blocked Patrick Sharp.
To a packed United Center’s relief, Patrick Kane broke his nine game scoreless (and season-long shootout) slump with his patented slow-motion/fast hands move to win the game.
(As an aside, has that move been named yet? The Kane-o-Rama? The Hurri-Kane? The Hurri-and-wait-Kane?)
Rask made 35 saves, while Crawford made 36.
“Great hockey game; the pace was tremendous at the start and it didn’t stop,” said coach Joel Quenneville. “They’re a dangerous team. They have patience and play recognition, and they have all guys active and wanting the puck. It’s a great test, and it’s nice to finally get a shootout win, too.”
With this win, Quenneville tied at 692 career coaching victories, tying him at third overall with Hall-of-Famer Dick Irvin.
With wins against the Ducks and the Bruins, hopefully the Hawks have skated out of their “slump.”
“Two big games against two great teams,” Kane said. “We weren’t going as well as we wanted to before these two games, but this game and Friday night’s game against the Ducks were big games for us to get our confidence back up to know we can play with the best in the league.”
The Blackhawks take on their old rival Detroit Redwings with a 7 p.m. CT start Wednesday.