For the first time in this Stanley Cup Final series, a contest was decided without overtime. And, in the case of Game 3, it sure seemed over before the horn at the end of the third period. With goals from Daniel Paille and Patrice Bergeron, the Bruins captured a 2-0 win — and a 2-1 series lead — Monday night in a show of how relentless they can be on the forecheck and how frustrating they can be to an opponent.
Chicago, which was without Marian Hossa because of an upper-body injury, rarely sustained pressure against goaltender Tuukka Rask, continued to struggle on special teams (now 0-for-11 in the series) and didn’t have much response to the ever-aggressive Bruins forecheck.
“It’s a low-chance game,” Blackhawks Coach Joel Quenneville told reporters in Boston Monday night. “It’s hard to get A-plus chances. You have to manufacture the second [chances], kind of ugly goals, tip screens, deflections. If they give up the rush, they’re not going to give up much, even though we had a couple looks in the third. The frequency of having high-quality chances in this series at both ends has not been there.”
Can the Blackhawks find the answer to the riddle that is Boston’s suffocating game? If not, well, they won’t be the first. From the Boston Globe:
What a pain it must be to play the Bruins right now. They allowed the Penguins only two goals in four games in the Eastern Conference finals. They shut down everything and everyone Pittsburgh had to offer. Sidney Crosby disappeared. Evgeni Malkin never came out of the fog. Ditto for Kris Letang and everyone else in the Penguins lineup.
And now it’s happening to the Blackhawks. Different laundry, same bad wash. The Western Conference champs worked into triple OT to squeeze out a 4-3 victory in Game 1, and now they’ve lost two in a row, 2-1 and 2-0, putting only one shot behind Rask despite squeezing off 120 shots in 133:48 worth of meat-grinding hockey.
Highlights from Game 3:
>> Monday was a busy day for contracts around the league, starting with Philadelphia. The Flyers agreed to a four-year, $21 million deal with veteran defenseman Mark Streit, according to multiple reports, but because of salary cap restrictions they must wait until they clear space to make the deal official. Many expect the Flyers to buy out center Danny Briere and goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov, freeing up space to retool the roster. The buyout period begins 48 hours after the conclusion of the Cup final.
>> Logan Couture and the Sharks have come to terms on a contract extension, the details of which are still unclear. Couture’s new deal can’t be formalized until July 5, because of rules in the new CBA that stipulate a player must be in the final year of his current contract to sign an extension.
>> The Red Wings have agreed to a three-year, $22.5 million extension with Pavel Datsyuk, according to the Detroit Free Press. Datsyuk must wait until July 5 to make his new contract official as well.
>> The NHL announced that the Capitals will take on the Winnipeg Jets in a preseason game on Sept. 14 in Belleville, Ontario, as part of Kraft Hockeyville.