CHICAGO (AP) — These Boston Bruins are one resilient bunch.
Daniel Paille scored at 13:48 in overtime and the Bruins shrugged off a sluggish start to beat the Chicago Blackhawks 2-1 on Saturday night and even the Stanley Cup finals at a game apiece.
Three days after a three-overtime thriller in the opener, Boston and Chicago once again were tied after regulation. The Bruins then turned up their play and finally cashed in after goaltender Corey Crawford had singlehandedly kept the Blackhawks in the game.
Brandon Bollig had a turnover in the Chicago end and Tyler Seguin passed it to Paille, who shot it under Crawford’s glove and off the right post for his third goal of the playoffs. The slick shot sent the Bruins back to Boston with the momentum ahead of Game 3 on Monday night.
“We just kept the pressure on and Seggy threw the puck to me,” Paille said. “I just popped out and had to shoot the puck quick, get it off my stick. I was able to send it post low. He made a good play passing it over instead of shooting.”
Patrick Sharp scored for Chicago, which looked more and more gassed as the night wore on. Crawford made 26 saves in another terrific performance.
Paille also had an assist on Chris Kelly’s tying goal in the second, and Tuukka Rask made 18 of his 33 stops in the first period.
“We got rewarded because I thought from the second period on, we were a good team, a better team, and by the end I thought we had more chances,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said.
The first two games of last year’s Stanley Cup also went to overtime, with Los Angeles taking a 2-0 lead at New Jersey before going on to defeat the Devils in six games. Before last season, it had been 61 years since the first two games of the finals needed an extra period to decide the winner. In that 1951 Stanley Cup, each of the five games went to overtime, with Toronto taking the series against Montreal.
The way Chicago and Boston are playing, a repeat is certainly possible.
It was the third consecutive overtime game for the Blackhawks, who eliminated Los Angeles with a 4-3 victory in two overtimes in Game 5 of the Western Conference finals, and then defeated Boston 4-3 in Wednesday night’s marathon. Chicago dropped to 4-2 during OT games in this year’s playoffs.
The Bruins lost the opener when Dave Bolland’s tip went off Andrew Shaw’s leg and past Rask for the winning score. They also blew a 3-1 third-period lead in that one, but seemed to have no problem putting the loss behind them that night.
After all, the same core group of Bruins dropped the first two games of the 2011 Stanley Cup finals against Vancouver and came back to win. They trailed 4-1 in the third period of Game 7 against Toronto in this postseason and came back to win.
It’s a spirit that runs hand in hand with their home city these days. In the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombings, the Bruins talked about wanting to do something for the city, and they’re well on their way to that goal right now.
The Bruins made a strong push for the go-ahead score early in the third, but Crawford was there each time. He stopped Brad Marchand after Jaromir Jagr made a great move to set up the pesky forward. He kicked away a shot by David Krejci and gloved a long slap shot from Dennis Seidenberg about 5½ minutes into the period.
But his defense let him down in the end, and he was unable to stop Paille in overtime.
The Bruins’ final push was a stark contrast to the beginning of the game, with the Blackhawks looking refreshed during a dominant first period. The Bruins looked tired and slow, except for Rask, and that was enough to keep it close.
Rask turned away two shots by Patrick Kane during a strong rush 8½ minutes in the game. Michal Rozsival then threw it at the net and the long rebound went out to Sharp, who shot it past Rask while the goaltender contended with a pile of bodies in front of the net.
It was Sharp’s ninth playoff goal, breaking a tie with Bryan Bickell for the team lead and matching Krejci for the NHL’s best total. A few minutes later, Marian Hossa pushed Rask’s pads and the puck just over the red line in goal. But the officials ruled the play had been whistled dead before the score.
When the first period was over, the Blackhawks had 19 shots on goal. Sharp (six) and Hossa (five) each had more shots than Boston had as a team (four).
“We really slept through the first period and didn’t play very well,” Seidenberg said.
Yet Chicago had only a 1-0 lead. The terrific effort by Rask that kept the Bruins in the game paid off when they got the tying score in the second.
Paille had a takeaway against Sharp behind the net and then made a nice move to get to the other side of the goal. Crawford turned him away, but Kelly was there to poke in the rebound at 14:58.
Kelly’s first playoff goal since April 12, 2012, against Washington and No. 11 for his career ended Boston’s scoreless stretch of 1 hour, 40 minutes and 57 seconds dating to the third period of the opener.
“It’s like the second period, I thought we lost the pace of the game on that end of the rink,” Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. “We had the perfect start to the game, then we stopped doing what made us successful. We stood around. They countered.”
NOTES: Bruins F Nathan Horton played 21½ minutes after leaving the series opener with an unspecified upper body injury. … Chicago C Jonathan Toews received a standing ovation when he was recognized in the first period with a videoboard message honoring the center for winning this year’s Frank J. Selke award, given to the NHL’s best defensive forward. … It was the first split of the first two games of the Stanley Cup finals since 2004, when Calgary won the first game on the road and Tampa Bay took Game 2. The Lightning won the series in seven games.
Jay Cohen can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/jcohenap