Sloppy Defense Dooms Boston, Chicago Draws Even

Stanley Cup Finals: Series tied 2-2

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The Bruins fell short in a wild affair Wednesday night, losing game 4 of the Stanley Cup Finals, 6-5. Chicago evened this best of seven series at 2 games apiece, winning their second overtime contest. It was Boston’s first loss on home ice since May 10. The Blackhawks treated this one as a must win, as they knew a loss would all but end their Cup hopes.

Boston did rally from 3-1, 4-2, and 5-4 deficits to force overtime, but it was a poor defensive effort that ultimately led to their demise. Tuukka Rask had gone 122:00+ minutes without allowing a goal coming into this showdown. A seven-game home winning streak also came to an end.

The Bruins never led in the game. Chicago kept taking the lead until Boston could not tie it again.

It was the third overtime game between the two teams this series. Chicago took game 1 in triple OT, 4-3. Boston won game 2 in the first overtime frame, 2-1.

Unlike the opening three games of the series, game 4 was a highly entertaining, goal-scoring exhibition. In taking advantage of some wide-open play, both the Bruins and Blackhawks erupted for one goal after another.

It’s safe to say that neither side drew up a game plan fashioned for what unfolded before their eyes. After tallying a combined total of 12 goals through three games, Boston and Chicago scored 11 in total Wednesday.

The first-period gave absolutely no indication of the bedlam that was to come. Chicago’s Michael Handzus was able to score a rare shorthanded goal on the Bruins, giving them an early 1-0 lead. Rich Peverley responded, snapping his scoring drought, as he notched an equalizing power play marker. Play headed for the second knotted at one aside.

A series that had been dictated by stifling defense and strong goaltending suddenly took an unexpected turn in the second period.

Jonathan Toews scored the first of five second-period goals, tipping home a Michael Roszival slapper. Patrick Kane then followed up the goal with one of his own, giving Chicago a 3-1 lead and its first two-goal lead of the series. The two-goal deficit marked the first time the Bruins had trailed by such a margin since their epic game 7 comeback over Toronto.

Later in the period Milan Lucic was able to cut into the lead, bringing the Bruins within one. Parked in front of the Hawks net, Lucic was able to back hand a Zdeno Chara rebound in, making it a 3-2 game.

The Blackhawks again answered, as Marcus Kruger was able to stuff in his own rebound after Tuukka Rask made an initial stop on a 2-on-1 bid.

Boston showed great resiliency in their ability to bounce back after continually falling behind. Still in the second-period, Patrice Bergeron scored another Bruin power play goal. Bergeron slide home a Zdeno Chara blast that fell right in front of Corey Crawford after it caromed off the end glass and off the top of the goal.

The Bruins had all the momentum on their side as play shifted toward the final period. Claude Julien’s team was able to orchestrate a late period charge, nearly scoring on numerous occasions. Chris Kelly came within a fraction of an inch to tying the game, as he had a puck drift just past the far post. It was so close that the goal horn even sounded.

Chicago began the third period ahead, 4-3. The Bruins came out like a house of fire for the final twenty minutes. Jaromir Jagr set up Bergeron for his second tally of the game. Jagr and Bergeron dominated the puck like they had throughout the tilt.

Tied at 4-4, the scoring was not nearly done. Patrick Sharp broke the late deadlock, giving the Blackhawks a 5-4 advantage. It seemed as if this tilt was destined for overtime.

Johnny Boychuk sent it to extra time, blasting a rocket past Crawford’s glove hand. It should be noted that each Boston goal was scored via the glove hand side.

Patrice Bergeron, Zdeno Chara, and Dennis Seidenberg combined for -7 rating. The trio seemed to be easily flustered defensively in what was certainly an uncharacteristic showing.

This back-and-forth battle finally came to close 9:51 into the overtime. Brent Seabrook teed up a drive that found its way into the net with Toews screening Rask. The two sides will now shift back to Chicago on Saturday where game 5 of this best-of-seven series will be played.

At the end of the day Joel Quenneville’s decision to reunite Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane made all the difference. The two seamlessly picked off where they had left off against Los Angeles and gave the Bruins fits. Claude Julien seemed to lack an answer for their relentless play and it will certainly be something to watch moving forward.

Boston defense, normally reliable and dominant, stuggled mightily. Thankfully the Bruins now have two days off to fine tune their game. The Bruins are way to talented to let such a poor showing repeat itself. Look for a stong bounce back game from the Black and Gold.

Quotes of the Night:

Brent Seabrook on the Hawks victory:

“Both teams are so great defensively. Both have great goalies,” Seabrook said. “I don’t know; it was one of those games. They got some goals on the power play, we got some bounces. It was nice to get some past Tuukka.”

Dennis Seidenberg on the Bruins loss:

“It’s pretty frustrating. It was pretty sloppy of a game all around. There were too many breakdowns on our side.”

Top Boston Performers:

Patrice Bergeron: 2 goals

Jaromir Jagr: 2 assists

Milan Lucic: 1 goal, 8 hits

Frank O’Laughlin – Senior NHL Contributor – Titletown Sports Network

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