The first two games of the Stanley Cup Final in Chicago were rather even, both requiring overtime to determine winners. The Bruins and the Blackhawks scored five goals apiece. Both teams won one game.
The series shifted to Boston and a decidedly one-sided affair broke out, as the Bruins controlled matters from start to finish in a 2-0 victory Monday night at TD Garden.
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Daniel Paille scored for the second straight game and helped create an opportunity for another goal and Tuukka Rask continued to frustrate the Blackhawks with 28 saves as the B’s grabbed a 2-1 advantage in the best-of-seven series. Game 4 is Wednesday at TD Garden (8 p.m., NBC).
The Bruins outshot (35-28), outhit (31-25) and outhustled Chicago. They ran their penalty kill streak to 27, even producing some nice shorthanded scoring opportunities along the way. And led by Patrice Bergeron (24-4 on faceoffs), Boston won possession on 71 percent of puck drops, all part of a complete effort that tilts the series toward the Black and Gold.
Unlike Game 2, when they limped out of the locker room as if their feet had been dipped in quick-dry cement, the Bruins started strong. Alas, there was nothing to show for it until that revamped third line, led by Paille, again provided the scoring punch early in the second.
Paille, who had an assist and scored the game-winner in overtime Saturday night, first kept the puck in the zone and then set up Tyler Seguin for a pretty good chance that bounded back toward Paille, who was able to pot it. With the B’s on a power play later in the period, Paille’s hustle drew a tripping penalty that led to a 5-on-3 situation.
Although Paille was off the ice after the call and although Chicago technically killed off the two-man advantage, its fourth skater was just coming back onto the ice when Jaromir Jagr fired a beautiful pass to Bergeron, who slammed it past Corey Crawford to make it 2-0 with 5:55 left in the second.
The Blackhawks showed a little urgency early in the third and were given another power-play chance midway through. When they failed to convert, or even threaten to convert, their streak of power plays without a goal ran to 18 (it would eventually hit 19) and the crowd at TD Garden rose as one in appreciation of another dominant stretch of Bruins hockey.
Zdeno Chara and Bryan Bickell went at it in a heavyweight matchup in the closing seconds while Brad Marchand tangled with fellow scrapper Andrew Shaw as this one ended with gloves and sticks strewn about in front of Rask. That does little more than increase the intensity in advance of Wednesday's matchup, but if the Bruins dominate the way they did this one, it won’t matter.
What they'll be saying: It was just 72 hours or so ago that many were wondering if the Bruins had the mental toughness to bounce back from a devastating triple overtime defeat. Now, as of Monday night, Boston is halfway to its second Stanley Cup title in three years.
The Bruins defense and Tuukka Rask were once again brilliant, blanking the Blackhawks, who had not been shutout since May 23 against Detroit.
The B's are now in firm control of the Cup Final and for the Blackhawks to win they would need to win three out of the next four games against a red hot Boston squad that has no intention of slowing down. Of note, in best-of-seven Cup Finals in which teams split the first two games the team that won Game 3 won 21 of the first 25. In 2004, the Calgary Flames won Game 3 but Tampa Bay came back to capture the Cup. - Matt Burke