June 17, 2013

Rask blanks Blackhawks as B's take 2-1 series lead

By Jesse Connolly

Patrice Bergeron congratulates Tuukka Rask following the Bruins' 2-0 win in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final. (Getty Images)

Final: Boston 2, Chicago 0

Recap: The first period was as intense as any of the recent four overtime sessions these two squads have played, but neither squad could find twine on a combined 21 shots. Chicago had two power plays but couldn't capitalize on either. 

In the second, the third line scored its third goal in the last three-plus periods. Tyler Seguin's shot from the slot went past Corey Crawford's glove, but Chris Kelly swooped into the corner to retrieve it. He dished it off to Dan Paille out in front, who spun and wristed one home for his third point in the last two games.

With 5:55 left in the middle frame, Boston made it a 2-0 game. Patrice Bergeron buried his second power-play goal of the series, just five seconds after Dave Bolland got out of the box to make a 5-on-3 man advantage a 5-on-4 one. 

In the third, the Blackhawks had a measly four shots on goal in the first 14 minutes of the period. They picked up the pace a tad toward the end of the tilt, but ultimately couldn't do anything -- including on a power play with 4:05 left in the contest. 

Series: Boston leads 2-1

Playoff Records: Boston 14-5; Chicago 13-7

Key Play of the Game: Bergeron's power-play strike was not only a filthy goal but an absolute dagger to the Blackhawks' hearts. Jaromir Jagr made a sweet cross-crease pass to No. 37. When he slammed it home, it was the equivalent of firing a nail gun into a balloon. The deflated 'Hawks were toast.

Connolly's Commendations: We'll square away the kudos Tuukka Rask earned with his performance first. He didn't have to stand on his head a la the first period of Game 2, but even a pedestrian (28 saves) shutout deserves a round of applause, especially one in the Stanley Cup Final.

The big key for the B's was their strong defensive game throughout the night. The 'Hawks quality chances were few and far between and often came from the perimeter. Chicago seemed to settle for the fact that the only way they were going to score was on a fluke play or a deflection.

Furthermore, Boston's superb work on the PK continued. Chicago's 0-fer in this series, just as Pitsburgh was in the conference finals.

Another very good night for the third line, as Paille, Kelly and Seguin all picked up points again with their goal. They also deserve honorary assists for Bergeron's power-play tally, as they drew both penalties that gave the B's a brief two-man advantage.

Speaking of Bergeron, what a remarkable night for the multitalented pivot. No. 37 won 24-of-28 (!) faceoffs, added the goal and fired a game-high seven shots.

Connolly's Critiques: Hate to pick on the guy for a second game in a row, but I suppose we have some space to fill. It was another rough outing for Kaspars Daugavins. One has to wonder if he might be playing his way out of the lineup after committing a bad penalty (roughing) then botching a 3-on-1 when he got out of the box by putting himself offside.

Notes: The Bruins improved to 11-3 under Claude Julien in Game 3s. For Rask, the shutout is the third of his playoff career and his third in the last seven games. Tonight marked just the second time in 2013 the 'Hawks have been held without a goal.

Final Thoughts: Team defense was the story in this one, but man, oh man, how good has Rask been of late? The Bruins goalie improved to 6-1 in his last seven games, during which he has three shutouts and a .973 save percentage against the top two scoring teams in the NHL in 2013. The Bruins have to be brimming with confidence with that going for them, and after taking care of business in such a smooth fashion in Game 3.

Next: The Blackhawks and B's will return to the ice on Wednesday night at 8 o'clock for Game 4 at TD Garden.

Twitter: @JesseNEHJ
Email: jconnolly@hockeyjournal.com