CHICAGO | Winning a shootout Sunday for the first time since Nov. 29 was nice for both the Blackhawks’ momentum and the extra point.
How the Blackhawks measured their 3-2 victory over the Boston Bruins in their first rematch since the Stanley Cup Finals was the overall quality of their performance. The champs had wobbled and wavered too much since the start of the New Year, only to regain their game in consecutive victories over the Bruins and Anaheim Ducks.
“Two big games against two great teams,” was the simple explanation from Patrick Kane, who scored the deciding shootout goal as the sixth man up in the nationally-televised duel. He broke his own 0-for-9 shootout drought with his slow-down move and stick-side shot against Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask.
“Obviously, we weren’t going as well as we wanted to before these two games,” Kane said. “This game and Friday night’s game against the Ducks were good games to get our confidence back up and know we can play with the best in the league.”
Hawks captain Jonathan Toews tallied the other shootout goal.
“I guess in a way it probably motivated us to play better and to raise our level of play against those two teams," Toews said. "Two good tests for us and to find ways to win. We can carry that into the rest of the games ... as we head into the Olympic break.”
One reason the Hawks played so well in a goalie battle between Corey Crawford (35 saves) and the Rask (34 saves) was the atmosphere. The game lived up to the hype and offered a playoff feel.
“Obviously it was a hard-fought game and they’re a great team,” Bruins center Patrice Bergeron said. “It’s definitely the type of atmosphere that reminds you of playoff atmosphere.”
Rask was in prime form with several point-blank and spectacular glove saves. That meant Crawford could give no ground as in a playoff game.
“It was a good buzz and a good energy from our crowd the whole game,” Crawford said. “Two fast teams. It was definitely a good hockey game to watch. It was pretty close (to Finals quality). It was a good one for us to pick up a shootout win.”
Marian Hossa opened the scoring in the first period with his 20th goal, taking a deft pass from Patrick Sharp. Bruins center Brad Marchand, who also scored in the shootout, temporarily took over the game to end the first and start the second. He scored with 19 seconds to go in the first, then added his 14th goal with 50 seconds elapsed in the second.
Brandon Bollig’s bad-angle goal from near the right boards midway through the second tied it up.