Final: Boston 2, Chicago 1 (OT)
Recap: The Bruins' comeback against the Maple Leafs in Game 7 was an absolute miracle. I think it's fair to say them escaping the first period of Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final down just a single goal was, too. The Blackhawks looked like the hockey version of the '27 Yankees, completely dominating Boston to the tune of a 19-4 shot edge in the first 20 minutes of play. Thankfully for the Black and Gold, Patrick Sharp was the only Chicago player able to put a puck past Tuukka Rask.
After not quite immediately turning things around at the start of the middle frame, the newly-formed line of Tyler Seguin, Dan Paille and Chris Kelly cashed in, with the latter banging home his first goal since Game 1 in the first round against the Capitals last season. From that point on (5:02 left in the second), it was the Bruins that took control.
The B's outshot the 'Hawks 16-9 over the final 40 minutes of regulation, but the two teams again needed overtime to decide the tilt. Jaromir Jagr hit the crossbar with 1:28 gone in the extra session, and Boston came close to scoring umpteen times before Paille picked up his second point of the night, ripping home a shot in the slot past Corey Crawford for the game-winner.
Series: Boston and Chicago tied 1-1
Playoff Records: Boston 13-5; Chicago 13-6
Key Play of the Game: On the winning goal, Duncan Keith sent the puck hard up the far boards, but Brandon Bollig couldn't handle it cleanly. Adam McQuaid wisely pinched in promptly and got the puck to Seguin. He dished it quickly to Paille and the rest, as they say, was history.
Connolly's Commendations: It's been a long time coming for the now-ever-shifting third line, but a few tweaks helped a couple slumping forwards break through. Kelly, Seguin and Paille were Boston's best line in this one, crashing and banging, generating chances and giving the B's some desperately-needed production.
Jagr had a really rough start to the game, much like the Bruins did as a whole, but he certainly played a role in helping make the ice tilt in the other direction. The 41-year-old winger had a team-high five shots, a couple of nice setups (is that guy good at indirect passes or what?) and came so very close to notching the winner early in OT.
The Bruins better be thanking their lucky stars that Rask was extremely sharp in the first period. Chicago spent, essentially, the whole first half of the game in Boston's end. No. 40 almost single-handedly kept it a game, providing his teammates with a chance to climb back into the contest.
He might not have gotten on the score sheet, but Milan Lucic was -- once again -- a force to be reckoned with. The Bruins amped-up physical game helped them turn things around. Lucic led the way with a game-high 10 hits.
Kudos to coach Claude Julien from shuffling up the bottom six. Had he not, the Bruins are probably heading back home trailing two games to none.
Connolly's Critiques: Speaking of that bottom six, Kaspars Daugavins earned his demotion to the fourth line. He was on the ice for Sharp's tally in the first and played just 6:14 in the final 62 minutes of the game.
Notes: This marks the first time the Stanley Cup Final has been tied 1-1 since 2004, when Calgary earned a split in Tampa. This is the second consecutive year the first two games of the Cup Final have gone to overtime. Eight of the last 10 teams that won Game 2 have gone on to win the championship.
Final Thoughts: The Bruins had absolutely no business still being in this game at its midway point, but Rask was a rock between the pipes and helped the Black and Gold hang around long enough for Julien to have a little "chat" -- as he put it, post-game -- with his players about their subpar play. And now that the two games are in the books, things look pretty good for the Black and Gold. They were a post and a botched tap-in away from winning Game 1. In Game 2, they were junk early on, withstood the Blackhawks' best effort and still found a way to win, giving them home-ice advantage in the series now.
Next: The B's will host the 'Hawks in Game 3 on Monday night at TD Garden at 8 o'clock.