It was like watching that nightmare when you’re being chased and your legs are Jell-O.
The Boston Bruins couldn’t move. They tripped. They looked helpless.
That was the reality for the Bruins at the start of Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final at United Center on Saturday night. This kind of night-time terror is usually solved by waking up, something the Bruins did eventually in a 2-1 overtime victory over the Chicago Blackhawks.
Until the trance ended, however, the Bruins relied on goalie Tuukka Rask. He faced 19 shots in the first period, stopping all but a Patrick Sharp volley after a fierce scramble in front of his often-crowded net.
“Well, we definitely were in survival mode there for a bit,” said Rask, who finished with 33 saves. “It looked like they had more guys out there than we did. They were bouncing on every single puck in front of net. We definitely played pretty bad.”
Minus Rask’s play, there’d be no game-winner by Daniel Paille late in the first overtime, and the Bruins wouldn’t head to Game 3 in Boston on Monday tied 1-1 in the best-of-seven series.
“Tuukka was solid,” Paille said. “We knew we could have been down by a lot more than one. So, for sure, we counted ourselves lucky.”
The Blackhawks should have scored at least a couple of goals in the first 20 minutes. Some would argue — especially those loyal to the Blackhawks — they actually did, but a referee whistled down what would have been a goal by Marian Hossa; the call was upheld after a video review.
“It does get frustrating when you get the shots and things aren’t going in,” Blackhawks forward Dave Bolland said. “I think that frustration, you have to leave it alone. You just need to keep throwing pucks at the net. If you hit a goalie, you hit a hot goalie. They are bound to go in.”
The Blackhawks failed to follow up that overwhelming first period in the second. Chicago’s game began to devolve, and neither team looked much like Stanley Cup finalists, as the game more closely mirrored a preseason contest — if we had any of those in this lockout-shortened season.
No, this game — despite entering OT again — certainly wasn’t the classic like Game 1, which lasted 117 minutes before the ‘Hawks prevailed.
Boston was hitting, forward Milan Lucic especially. (He was credited with 10 hits.) And a change made by Bruins coach Claude Julien after the first period — putting Chris Kelly, Tyler Seguin and Paille on the same line — helped spark the Bruins’ resurgence.
Paille worked his way from the back of the net get a shot off on Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford. Crawford made the save, but Kelly moved in and lifted in the rebound to tie the game at 1-1 with five minutes left in the second.
“I think Claude is just trying to find different chemistry with different guys,” said Kelly, who broke a 22-game scoreless drought. “Claude has a pretty good feel for his players.”
That’s safe to say. The Bruins’ biggest issues offensively have been a lackluster power play and little contributions from the third and fourth lines. The power play went scoreless in its two opportunities, but the Bruins’ reshuffled third line powered the win as Paille beat Crawford’s glove hand to end the game.
“We didn’t have much going,” Julien said. “At one point, I thought that line would give us something. They responded well (and) got both goals tonight. It’s a hunch from a coach.”
It certainly woke up whatever daze the Bruins were in early.