Let’s face it, after barely pulling out the win against the Calgary Flames on Tuesday night, most people were pretty sure that the ongoing home ice struggles would result in the Chicago Blackhawks coming into Boston and schooling the Boston Bruins. Even when Patrice Bergeron put the Bruins up just 1:18 into the first period, many fans were undoubtedly remembering other games this season that began the same way. With a quickly scored goal, there is still a lot of hockey yet to play. As the Blackhawks got the tying goal from Jonathan Toews on the power play there were some who began to give up—fortunately those wearing the retro Winter Classic jerseys in black and gold weren’t among them.
“Yeah, I mean, a lot of people doubted what we could do against top teams and that’s a top team right there and I thought we played pretty well for the most part,” Torey Krug said, acknowledging the doubters after the game. “Every game there is ups and downs and things that we can correct if you want to be nit-picky and things like that, but for the most part we played with pace and fast and I thought it’s probably an exciting game for the fans to watch.”
Actually, watching the Bruins play during the first period, it was evident that the team had energy and conviction as they continued to keep the Blackhawks from even getting shots on goal through much of the first 20 minutes. This sentiment was punctuated by Brad Marchand as he put Boston up 2-1 with a meager 22 seconds remaining in that first frame and earned his 33rd goal on the season.
The second stanza has proved particularly difficult for the Bruins this season. In what was a relatively penalty-free game, as Andrew Ladd, returning to his former team as a result of trade day activities, sat in the sin bin for high sticking Jimmy Hayes, the recently slumping Bruins power play came out firing. Ryan Spooner got the puck behind goaltender Scott Darling just six seconds into the man advantage for Boston. Bergeron, as a result of winning the faceoff, got an assist on Spooner’s goal as did Krug. The score would stall at 3-1, in favor of the Bruins, for 13 minutes before Loui Eriksson, receiving a blind pass from John-Michael Liles—who was acquired on Monday from the Carolina Hurricanes—would give the Bruins even more breathing room on the score sheet. It was a good thing too, because another last minute goal would be notched in the middle twenty, only this time for the visitors. A result of a breakdown in the Bruins defensive end, Tomas Fleischmann would get Chicago back within two goals just 50 seconds before the end of the second.
Coming out in the third, it was clear that the Blackhawks were intent on throwing everything they had at the Bruins, sensing that if they could get one goal that the game was within their grasp. While they did outshoot the Bruins in the final period, Tuukka Rask ensured that nothing went in. Even when Chicago’s head coach Joel Quenneville, in an aggressive move, pulled his goalie with more than three minutes remaining, Rask continued to deny the Blackhawks and the Bruins began to regroup and keep chances to a minimum.
“Yeah, we’ve come back in a lot of games before, so we have a lot of confidence in our group and we knew that we had a chance to come back,” shared Blackhawk Niklas Hjalmarsson about their strategy in the third. “But they did a good job and shut us down pretty well and played simple hockey and we didn’t truly get too many great chances—just a well played period by them.”
No one in the Bruins dressing room expects the remaining games of the regular season to get any easier. They will take a moment to absorb how great the win over Chicago felt, but they have their eyes already on the tough game they face on Saturday when they host the Washington Capitals.
Post game comments from Bruins dressing room: