Daniel Paille scores in overtime as Bruins even Stanley Cup final
Boston musters muscle, grit and as much skulduggery as the referees will allow
Jonathan Toews of the Chicago Blackhawks attempts to put the puck on net against goalie Tuukka Rask of the Boston Bruins in Game Two of the NHL 2013 Stanley Cup Final at United Center on June 15, 2013 in Chicago, Illinois.
Photograph by: Harry How, Getty Images
CHICAGO — Fair’s fair. The Chicago Blackhawks and Boston Bruins ought to be even in this Stanley Cup final, and they are.
On the other hand ...
The Blackhawks, arguably, would be leading it 2-0 if referee Wes McCauley hadn’t prematurely blown the whistle - or to be precise, intended to blow it - on a Marian Hossa first-period goal that crossed the line behind Tuukka Rask out of the ref’s line of sight.
The Bruins, arguably, would be leading 2-0 if their total domination of overtime in Game 1 had been crowned with the winning goal, instead of getting past Rask off the lucky shinpad of Chicago third-liner Andrew Shaw.
All that can be said, without fear of contradiction, is that there are no home games in this series -- they are all being played on Hudson’s Bay, under house rules. Short of decapitation, which hasn’t yet happened, it appears there are no fouls serious enough to warrant punishment.
Saturday, it was a different third-liner, Boston’s Daniel Paille, who pulled the trigger on a pass from Tyler Seguin, beating Corey Crawford with a shot that rang off the right post and in at 13:48 of overtime to give the Bruins a 2-1 win and send the Cup final back to Beantown tied 1-1.
“You look at last game when they won, their heroes were guys from third, fourth lines. Same thing for us,” said Bruins coach Claude Julien. “That's why you need depth in the playoffs. Top lines are playing head-to-head, top D. It's not always that easy to score.”
On the coulda-woulda-shoulda scale, this one was pretty even.
But if you believe in historical precedent, here’s how important the Paille goal was, potentially: of the 13 longest Game 1 overtime decisions ever, the losing team has gone on to lose the series 11 times. The only two exceptions won Game 2.
The hangover effect from Wednesday’s triple-overtime marathon certainly seemed to have hit the Bruins like a ton of bricks at the start. They were so completely overrun in the first period -- losing all the puck battles, rarely advancing it into the Chicago end, being outshot 20-4 -- it was a considerable victory to get to the intermission only down 1-0.
“We were in survival mode,” said Rask. “It seemed like they had more guys than us.”
"If someone watched the first period they would say 'Give them the Cup right now,” said Bruins greybeard (temporarily dyed) Jaromir Jagr. “It's not like you don't want to play. They were quicker for whatever reason. Maybe they recover quicker after the long overtime. Maybe they had a better practice, I don't know.”
A more opportunistic team than the Blackhawks, or (to give credit where it’s due) one not facing Rask in the other net, could have easily been home and dry after such a lopsided 20 minutes.
And they might have been, had McCauley not waved off Hossa’s bulldozer-like rebound of a Jonathan Toews wraparound, 70 seconds after the Hawks had taken a 1-0 lead on Patrick Sharp’s ninth goal of the playoffs.
But it was reviewed and disallowed -- though never fully explained to an angry crowd of 22,154 at United Center -- and instead of being out on their feet, the Bruins managed to stagger to the dressing room, check themselves for bullet holes, find that they were still alive, and come out a much more competitive squad in the second.
"The message was basically to wake up," said Boston defenceman Dennis Seidenberg. "We really slept through the first period and didn't play very well."
Eventually, the play evened out, and slowed down. Apparently, it didn’t feel that way on the ice, but it sure looked it.
The Blackhawks fired and fell back. The Bruins fell back, and fired. The Hawks skated them off their feet in the first period. The Bruins laid on the lumber in the second to get themselves re-energized, and -- ominously, for Chicago fans -- the Hawks had nothing to answer with.
By the time Chris Kelly shoveled home Daniel Paille’s rebound after Paille schooled Chicago defenceman Nick Leddy with five minutes left in the second, the ice had long since tilted in Boston’s favour.
“I thought we lost the pace of the game on that end of the rink,” said Chicago coach Joel Quenneville. “We had the perfect start to the game, then we stopped doing what made us successful. We stood around. They countered.”
"They definitely came out with a lot of speed in the first period and we wanted to somehow change that," Paille said. “Playing physical is a part of our game that's been huge for us. We started to pick up the pace after that."
"It was a dirty road win,” said Seidenberg.
And so it was.
The Bruins’ basic character doesn’t really change. When pushed, they push back with the old reliable weapons: muscle and grit and as much skulduggery as the referees will allow, and in the current climate, that’s quite a bit.
And that’s probably the blueprint for what’s apt to happen when the series shifts to Boston.
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