CHICAGO | ESPN hockey analyst Barry Melrose knew the caution light was flashing yellow midway through the second period Saturday night.
Melrose verbalized what many thought: the Blackhawks’ inability to add on to a sole Patrick Sharp goal in the first period amid a flurry of shots might come back to haunt them.
That it did, and in the period formerly the Hawks’ best friend: overtime.
In the third straight overtime postseason game at the United Center, Bruins winger Daniel Paille potted a goal past Corey Crawford at 13:48 to give the Bruins a 2-1 victory and tie the Stanley Cup Final at a game apiece.
The series now moves to Boston for Games 3 and 4 at 7 p.m. Monday and Wednesday.
The Blackhawks had come out shooting Saturday night as if they wanted to clinch the Final in three games. They hammered Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask for 19 shots in the first while allowing Boston just four.
But when Rask turned away 18 of those shots, a potential goal was disallowed and the Hawks ended up failing on three more power-play opportunities, their early momentum simply fizzled out. They managed just nine more shots in regulation and six more in overtime.
“We talked for a couple of days about attacking and following pucks to the net, and using our speed as an advantage,” Sharp said. “Clearly we did that in the first period.
“For whatever reason, we didn’t sustain that throughout the game. That’s something I’m sure we’ll look at over the next few days and try to figure out.”
Net traffic around Rask paid off at 11:22 of the first. The Hawks hammered shot after shot at Rask, the puck getting kicked back out just as quickly for juicy rebounds.
Finally it squirted out to Sharp by the right face-off circle. He slapped it in, Rask not having a chance with all the bodies screening him.
But Rask prevented serious trouble with his acrobatic goaltending style.
“You do get a little bit of frustration,” center Dave Bolland said. “But things like that happen. It’s hockey.”
The Bruins tied up late in the second period. Paille swirled around the back of the net. He flipped the puck amid the scrum to Chris Kelly, who beat Crawford at point-blank range.
Meanwhile, the Hawks had just nine more shots in the final two periods of regulation.
“I don’t know if they forced us to change (pace),” Bolland said. “They were playing hard. They were getting in the corners, winning the battles.”
The Bruins upped the tempo in overtime. Crawford finally buckled on Paille’s shot.
“We felt frustrated, yes, sure,” Sharp said of not scoring more. “It’s a challenge. You got to win four games. It’s a race to get there. Both teams aren’t going to give up, that’s for sure.
“There’s no point in hanging our heads. We’ll regroup and be ready to go.”