According to statute, the penalty for grand larceny in the state of Illinois can vary, depending upon the seriousness of the infraction, the egregiousness of the theft.
The Boston Bruins could have been facing a long stay in the slammer if they hadn’t got out of town fast Saturday, stealing into the night with a 2-1 overtime victory over the Chicago Blackhawks on a goal by Daniel Paille. It was a game which proved once again that playoff hockey is anything but predictable or fair – and that momentum is a complete illusion.
Watch: Boston 2, Chicago 1 (OT)
For the first 20 minutes of Saturday’s second game of the Stanley Cup final, Chicago purely dominated the action. Dominated the way Tiger Woods once did the professional golf tour; the way Rafa Nadal effortlessly racks up French Open championships. It was men against boys, the ice so tilted one way that only the lights-out brilliance of Bruins’ goaltender Tuukka Rask prevented it from being a rout. It was 1-0 after one on a goal by Patrick Sharp, and could have been 2-0 except that a goal by Marian Hossa was disallowed by a video review.
If it had been a boxing match, the referee would have jumped in and stopped the fight. The Bruins were down and out, their legs sluggish and stuck in the mud, nothing going right. In those usually uninformed interviews with the coaches on the bench, Boston’s Claude Julien noted they were lucky to still be alive.
But then predictably it all changed.
The shots were 19-4 for Chicago at the end of the first period and 23-7 in their favour at 14:48 into the second when the Bruins’ Paille stepped around struggling defenceman Nick Leddy and got the puck to the front of the net. Arriving at a timely moment, Chris Kelly fished the puck out of Patrick Kane’s skates and cashed his first playoff goal of the postseason to square the game at 1-1. Kelly had previously scored zero points in the Bruins’ first 17 playoff games and was a minus-9 overall. So of course he was due to break through.
In the second minute of overtime, the Bruins’ Jaromir Jagr rattled a shot off the post that could have won it right then. From there, the slog continued until Paille scored on a wrist shot from the top of the circle that beat goaltender Corey Crawford on the glove side at 13:48 of overtime for the win.
So now we have a series – tied 1-1 with the third game set for Boston on Monday night.
“Well, we definitely were in survival mode there for a bit,” acknowledged Rask. “It looked like they had more guys out there than we did. They were bouncing on every single puck in front of net, had a lot of chances. We definitely played pretty bad.
“But, you know, it was good that we were only down by one and regrouped after that.”
Julien spoke on the morning of the game how Dame Fortune hadn’t been on his team’s side in the opener, a 4-3 triple overtime loss, and how luck can sometimes shift in the blink of an eye. He had his fingers crossed. Maybe that works too.
“I thought the first period, we just weren’t there,” said Julien. “We were on our heels. They had total control of that period. Tuukka kept us in there. I thought the second, we started turning it around. Third, same thing. We got better as the game went on. Overtime, that was the best, had a lot of scoring chances there.
“Like I told our guys, we got to show up on time for these kind of games. It could have cost us tonight.”
It was a game that began with a decent pace, but eventually slowed to a crawl, perhaps a residue of the 112-plus minutes the teams played in the opener. Chicago was in complete control early and got on the board at the 11:22 mark of the first on a mad scramble around the goal, in which Rask made three or four saves in a row but couldn’t get back into position before Sharp turned around and fired the puck in.
Soon after, the Blackhawks squeezed a second puck behind and underneath Rask, but the goal was disallowed, the NHL’s situation room ruling the whistle had been blown before the puck crossed the line. It was a break for Boston, one that kept them in the game and set the stage for Paille’s overtime heroics.
Kelly sounded relieved that his lengthy scoring drought had finally ended, noting: “Everyone would love to score and score consistently. For whatever reason, I haven’t. I try to stay positive.
“As long as the team’s doing well, I know that’s kind of a cliché, but that’s kind of how our room is. On any given night, someone can step up. Paille showed that tonight.”
Paille’s goal was his first overtime score of his playoff career (64 games) at 13:48 of the extra session and his second game winner of the playoffs - the other game in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference semifinals vs. the New York Rangers - and equals his total from his last 246 regular-season games.
The game featured the return to the line-up of the Bruins’ Nathan Horton, who left the opener in overtime because of what was reportedly a shoulder dislocation. Horton was restored to his spot on the No. 1 line with David Krejci and Milan Lucic. Horton’s presence permitted Julien to deploy Tyler Seguin on the third line again and he made the pass on the game-winning goal and had a little more jump in his step than he’s had in the last little while.
“You look at last game when they won, their heroes were guys from third, fourth lines,” said Julien. “The same thing for us. That’s why you need depth in the playoffs. The top lines are playing head-to-head, top D. It’s not always that easy to score.
“Dan skated well tonight. His forecheck created turnovers. He also was a lot stronger on the puck as far as battling, coming up with it. That was a great shot from him and obviously a great pass by Tyler. That line came up huge for us tonight.”
Teams winning Game 2 of the Final have gone on to win the Stanley Cup in 55 of 73 years since the best-of-seven format began in 1939 (75.3 per cent), including eight of the past 10 seasons.
For his part, Blackhawks’ coach Joel Quenneville could only lament a great opportunity that slipped through his teams’ collective fingers.
“We had the perfect start to the game, then we stopped doing what made us successful,” he said. “We stood around. They countered.”