CHICAGO | Two games to play, one to win, a Stanley Cup close to their grasp.
That’s the enticing prospect for the Blackhawks after their 3-1 victory over the Boston Bruins on Saturday night in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final.
Patrick Kane and Corey Crawford teamed up to help the Hawks take a 3-games-to-2 advantage going into Game 6 at 7 p.m. Monday in Boston.
“It’s exciting,” Kane said of the big goal very close. “You got to play one game to win it as hard as you can.”
A man who has stayed out late off the ice, Kane also apparently comes alive in the latter stages of postseason series. Repeating his achievements in the conference finals against the Los Angeles Kings, he scored two goals to give the Hawks all the scoring they’d need. He also tallied in Game 4 in Boston.
Goalie Corey Crawford made the lead hold up against some furious Bruins late charges. Hawks captain Jonathan Toews sat on the bench the entire period.
For the second straight game, Hawks coach Joel Quenneville started the Kane-Toews--Bryan Bickell first line. The pairings generated plenty of puck movement and traffic near Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask in the six-goal spree in Game 4.
Kane followed the script to the letter with the game’s first two scores. As in the Western Conference Final against the Kings, the winger has warmed up later in the series.
“I think I was in the right spot at the right time,” Kane said. “Playing with Jonny and ‘Bicks,’ they create a lot of space. Everybody wants to be that guy in big games.
“One of the things is you want to crash the net. They’re a tough defensive team and you’re not going to get those chances very often. You have to bury them.”
Late in a tight first period, Kane dribbled in a rebound on a tough angle from the left of the goal. Defenseman Johnny Oduya let go a slap shot, slightly re-directed by Toews. Rask leaned in the wrong direction, leaving the net space nearest Kane uncovered.
Early in the second period, Kane struck again. Bickell swung around behind the net, but lost control of the puck around the right side … fortuitously with Kane waiting right there to poke it in again out of Rask’s reach. He now had three goals in his past two games.
Boston captain Zdeno Chara finally broke through from near the left faceoff circle early in the third to make it 2-1.
Toews did not play a shift in the third period, although he stayed on the bench.
“I don’t think it was a defining blow,” Quenneville said of the hit that sent Toews to the bench.
“We’re hopeful he can play (Monday).”
Said Kane: “He’s a guy who goes into the tough areas in the corners. He’s going to take some big hits.”
Meanwhile, the Bruins confirmed in the third period star center Patrice Bergeron had left the United Center in an ambulance, but did not elaborate on his injury.
Center Dave Bolland iced the victory with an empty-net goal with 13.6 seconds left.