Coach's "Hunch" Pays off for Bruins
CHICAGO, IL - For the second straight game, extra time was needed to decide a winner. Only, the Bruins got to enjoy the final buzzer this time around.
Triple overtime wasn't on tap Saturday night at the United Center - Daniel Paille scored the first postseason overtime winner of his career 13:48 into the first OT, to give the B's the 2-1 win in Game Two. It evened the series at 1-1 heading back to Boston for Games Three and Four.
Despite coming out with the victory, though, the night hadn't appeared in the Bruins' favor to start.
In the first period, the Blackhawks, riding high from the triple overtime win, came out flying - and outshot the Bruins 19-4 in the process. Boston was on its heels. The Hawks knew it, and kept pressing. The only sustained pressure by the spoked-B occurred with about five minutes left in the first, as Patrice Bergeron's line put forth good work along the boards for the Merlot Line to continue the effort.
For only Patrick Sharp to find the back of the net with mayhem in front, amidst that initial period onslaught, the B's felt relieved - and knew they had their netminder to thank for it.
"Not much needed to be said after that first period," said Bruins center Chris Kelly, who eventually ended his postseason scoring drought, notching his first point with the tying goal in the second.
"It was a pretty terrible period by our team," he added. "And if it wasn’t for Tuukka, it would have been a lot worse."
Following the win, Kelly was wearing the Player of the Game Army Rangers' jacket. It goes to a player who stepped up on that given night, and though a case could have been made for Paille and Rask, it was fitting that the centerman received the jacket from defenseman Adam McQuaid (who had earned it following the series-clinching win over Pittsburgh). Neither has brought an overwhelming amount of offense to the B's, but both stepped up when their team needed them to.
"We definitely were in survival mode there for a bit. It looked like they had more guys out there than we did," said Rask, of the play from his perspective.
"It was good that we were only down by one and we regrouped after that."
And regroup they did, allowing only nine shots from Chicago in the second and third periods, to their 16 fired at Hawks' netminder Corey Crawford. The B's also outshot the Blackhawks in overtime, 8-6. But, of course, the shot that counts the most was Paille's winner.
"From the second period on we seemed to slowly get better and better; the further the game went, the better we got," said B's Head Coach Claude Julien. "That's just the way it was, obviously when you come into this building you'd like to at least get a split and our guys were committed enough to work and get it."
"The message was, basically, to wake up, because we really slept through the first period, we didn't play too well," said defenseman Dennis Seidenberg, who logged a team-high 31:00 of ice time. "But they played really well, they got pucks and they were skating hard to pucks all over the ice. We just lost our puck battles."
"For us to only be down one, we were lucky. Just told ourselves we have to start playing if we want to get a win."
"We started being more aggressive, forechecking, getting pucks deep, just getting pucks to the net," said Seidenberg.
"We started skating," was Coach Julien's simple assessment. "It kind of at least leveled the play a little bit more; in the first, they were skating and we weren't. It was totally lopsided. It was a hard period to coach and to watch."
"After that first period we just decided to get our legs moving and move the puck forward. I still thought we battled the puck in the second period, we weren't managing it well, but our legs were moving. Slowly, things started moving our way."
It wasn't just the skating, and the forechecking, and finding their North-South game, that eventually tipped the scale in the Bruins' favor.
Kelly had started out the game on the Merlot Line with Paille and Shawn Thornton. Seguin had been skating with Kaspars Daugavins and Rich Peverley. The Bruins' "top six" had remained intact with Nathan Horton in the lineup (after having Game One early due to an undisclosed injury.)
"Well, because we didn't have much going," Julien said of the reason for the switch, which happened about five minutes into the second. "At one point, I thought that line would give us something and they responded well. They got both goals tonight."
"It's a hunch from a coach and I know that Dan is a great skater, can make a lot of things happen. Seggy, after the first period, was one of the guys that really picked up his game. And Kells I thought was good right from the start, he seemed to be into it. I put those three guys together and they answered."
"I think the 'bottom six' have all played together at certain times. If it wasn’t this year, last year or the year before. So we are all familiar with one another," said Kelly, smiling to the sea of media postgame, after a reporter had refrained from using "bottom" to label the six players Coach Julien has been mixing and matching since Gregory Campbell's season-ending injury.
"You can say 'bottom six,'"Kelly had jested, understanding his role, with Bergeron and David Krejci's lines oft labeled the "top six."
"I think Claude’s just trying to find different chemistry with different guys and who is going on any given night. Claude has a pretty good feel for his players. I think our line got together, I thought we went out there and played well."
The trio combined for two goals, five points, and finished the night with a collective plus-five rating.
Seguin and Paille's speed flanked the centerman well.
"They both skate extremely well. They both jump on pucks and they are at kind of the same speed level, which makes it nice that not one guy is ahead of the other," said Kelly, of playing with the wingers.
"Tonight, it definitely was there," said Paille, of the chemistry. "I think that's just key for us to keep that confidence up and bring it into the next game."