Wednesday night in Boston, the Chicago Blackhawks barely escaped a game they had no business losing, beating the Bruins, 6-5, in overtime and tying the Stanley Cup Final, 2-2.
Credit the ‘Hawks for the win, absolutely.
But boy, did they nearly waste a long list of good things:
—- A goal from Jonathan Toews, finally.
—- A power-play goal, finally.
—- The opening goal, shorthanded no less.
—- A 4-2 lead in the second period.
—- A 5-4 lead in the third.
—- A plus-14 shot differential.
—- A willingness to go to the tough areas of the ice, specifically the space in front of Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask.
“We did a lot of good things tonight. We’ll look at the positives and move forward,” said Chicago head coach Joel Quenneville, who wouldn’t have had that luxury had Brent Seabrook not won it with a hard slapper at 9:51 of the extra frame.
Predictably, Bruins bench boss Claude Julien was less enthused. After better games in these playoffs, he’d lauded his team for its willingness to go “above and beyond” and defend in “layers.”
“I don’t think we played our best game,” said Julien.
“I just think we weren’t very sharp in our decision-making. Where we talked about we have layers, our D’s were pinching, our forwards were not really covering up, weren’t totally committed to that part of the game.”
Bottom line: “They were better than we were.”
For the ‘Hawks, a loss would’ve been devastating. Lights out on their Cup dreams, most likely.
Of course, they didn’t lose, so maybe it’s unfair to keep harping on the fact they nearly did — especially when, as mentioned, they did so many things well.
It’s just, the difference between a 3-1 deficit and what’s now a best-of-three with home-ice advantage is so incredibly vast.
All because they got the 11th goal in a wild, thrilling game at TD Garden.