The Chicago Blackhawks blew two-goal leads twice Wednesday night in Boston. They suffered through defensive lapses and an off night from their goaltender in Game 4 of the 2013 Stanley Cup Final.
Chicago was torched by the Bruins on the power play and were on the verge of trailing 3-1 in the series. So why will the ride to Chicago be a happy one? Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews and Bryan Bickell.
No, they probably aren't entertaining the team with card tricks on the plane. They did, however, provide enough flash on the ice to even the series at two games apiece.
There were other players that came up big in Game 4. However, it all started with coach Joel Quenneville taking the time to remember that the above combination had been wildly effective in previous outings. They should get as much ice time as possible.
Toews and Kane potted second-period goals in Chicago's 6-5 overtime win. Bickell assisted on Kane's goal and also on Brent Seabrook's game-winner. The 'Hawks' top line was excellent even with Boston coach Claude Julien having the last line change.
Toews' linemates for much of Game 3, Michael Frolik and Marcus Kruger, hooked up for a big score in the second period without the help of the captain. Michal Rozsival contributed a pair of assists and picked up the slack in ice time created by Nick Leddy sitting out the bulk of the contest.
The going wasn't always smooth, as evidenced by the fact that after the offensive explosion, Chicago still needed nine extra minutes to claim Game 4. Boston was down a pair twice and attacked Corey Crawford's glove to pull even with the 'Hawks.
Brandon Saad, who made a great shorthanded play to set up Michal Handzus' goal, also whiffed twice on clearing attempts to gift wrap the first Bruins goal. Chicago defensemen—Johnny Oduya in particular—failed to send pucks to the outlet man or out of the 'Hawks zone with uncomfortable regularity.
Crawford's glove was a bit wonky Wednesday. However, Boston shooters were afforded way too much time and space to target the area. Bruin defensemen were able to hold the puck in Chicago's zone and fire away most of the evening.
Crawford still managed to come up with some key saves on a night where the goalies coughed up 11 goals. This was after they combined to allow just 12 in the previous three games.
Brad Marchand's shot off of a faceoff win in overtime was scary and had game-winner written all over it. Crawford handled the shot and moments later, Seabrook sent the Blackhawks home the winner.
Chicago can't count on torching Tuukka Rask for a half-dozen goals every night. Still, I can imagine Quenneville giving the Ivan Drago speech to his troops. "You see? He's not a machine! He's not a machine! He's a man!"
It took a lot of work, but the 'Hawks finally converted some second chances. Heck, Kruger battled to knock in his own shot for what turned out to be a huge two-on-one conversion.
There are concerns heading into Game 5, to be sure. Crawford needs to return to earlier form. Marian Hossa was back for 19 minutes Wednesday but took a spill into the boards in overtime that probably exacerbated whatever injury that currently ails him.
Down 3-1, these problems would be insurmountable. With equal footing coming into Chicago for Game 5, everything comes down to a best-of-three sprint to the Stanley Cup.
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