Chicago’s gameplan to beat Tuukka Rask on Wednesday night was a simple one:
Don’t let him find the puck.
That what ‘Hawks head coach Joel Quenneville said following his club’s 6-5 overtime victory in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final, explaining that Chicago did a tremendous job of getting bodies in front of Rask, keeping him from seeing shots.
“I thought we had way more traffic than the last game,” Quenneville said. “If [Rask] sees the puck, he’s going to be almost impossible to beat.
“We wanted to make sure we got there, made it hard on him to find it and try to get in on the second and third opportunities.”
Chicago fired 47 shots on Rask all told, and a number of them came with traffic in front, or within 10 feet.
Jonathan Toews scored on a tip-in of a Michal Rozsival shot, Patrick Kane buried a rebound off a Bryan Bickell chance, Patrick Sharp banged home the team’s first PPG of the series and the longest-distance tally — Brent Seabrook’s OT-winner — came on a shot that went through several bodies before finding the back of the net.
“Nice ending, with the traffic at the net and with Seabs having the nice shot,” Quenneville said. “Kinda like their goal [Boychuk tally] that tied us up.”
Wednesday’s result will be a huge confidence boost for the ‘Hawks, and not just because they evened the series at two.
Hanging six goals on Rask is something no team has accomplished this postseason — he hasn’t allowed more than four in a single game. In fact, you have to go all the way back to Jan. 31 for the last time he got lit up in this fashion, a 7-4 loss to Buffalo in which he surrendered six before the Sabres scored on an empty net.
On a larger scale, Chicago should be pleased it beat the guy that was starting to get into its collective head.
The Boston goalie had a shutout streak of nearly 130 minutes in this series — snapped when Michal Handzus opened the scoring at 6:48 of the opening period — and, through the first three games, boasted a .960 save percentage and 1.22 GAA.
Quenneville had previously lambasted his team for making it “rather easy” on Rask, especially in Game 3, and there were concerns Chicago was going to run into the same fate as Pittsburgh, who could only muster two goals against Rask over the entire Eastern Conference finals.
That wasn’t an issue in Game 4.
In fact, Quenneville seemed pleased that his club found its offense, and confident the ‘Hawks could keep it going for the remainder of the series.
“We did a lot of good things tonight,” Quenneville said. “We’ll look at the positives and move forward.”