CHICAGO -- WANTED: The Boston Bruins. Crime: Theft.
After 20 minutes of Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final, the Boston Bruins were completely outplayed by the Chicago Blackhawks. The shots after one period were 19-4, attempts were 30-5. It was one of the most lop-sided periods of hockey you will ever see above the pee-wee level.
Yes, the Blackhawks threw everything they had at Boston but their robber baron, Tuukka Rask, held down the fort, giving up just one goal. Hardly ever did a one-goal deficit feel so good after a period, only because it could have been soooo much worse.
"We were really lucky if you look at the first period, they had so many chances," David Krejci said. "We didn't play well but Tuukka saved us. Coming out of the first being down only one, Tuukka did a great job again."
Ah yes, Tuukka. The man who by just about everybody's account is the favorite right now to win the Conn Smythe Trophy as the postseason MVP showed exactly why. He couldn't afford to sleep through the first period while Corey Crawford was pitching a tent at the other end of the ice.
"Well, we definitely were in survival mode there for a bit," Rask said of the first. "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."
"I thought we were just not good enough in the first 20," Zdeno Chara added. "After that we were playing better but the first 20 we were not good enough. Our goalie was the difference."
While his teammates were trying to cover their tracks from that botched beginning of the heist, Rask was busy keeping the getaway car warm, stopping 33 of 34 shots. Eventually the Bruins managed to escape with Game 2 as if they were carrying away a suitcase of Benjamins. The final score: Bruins 2, Blackhawks 1.
After that one-sided first period, the Bruins were able to at least settle things down. Over the next 40 minutes the B's outshot the Blackhawks 16-9. But it's not like 16 shots in two periods indicates a team dominating. The game ground to a bit of a halt, interrupted only by Chris Kelly's second-period goal, his first point of the entire postseason.
"After the first period, a bit of a chat, we got ourselves going," coach Claude Julien said. "We got our feet moving at the start, then the rest followed, and eventually it just got better."
Rask was the difference at least in the first period. He faced more shots (19) in those first 20 minutes than he faced in the next 43:58 of action (15). It was time the team in front of him did their part to take the loot.
In the first period the Bruins were left but little choice to hit away on the Blackhawks, who were hogging the puck like a kid with cookies.
"Well, I figured we had to do something 'cause we weren't doing much in that first period," Kelly said.
When the period was all said and done the Bruins had 21 hits, a product of being behind the Blackhawks' 8-ball but one that did help make a difference. The Hawks were controlling play but there was a price to pay for it in the form of big bruises.
As the game wore on the ice was tilting more and more in Boston's favor. By the time the overtime period came around and the game turned on its intensity faster than a Chara slap shot, it was completely in the Bruins' favor, tilted almost as much their way as the first was toward Chicago. It looked like a guarantee the Bruins would be the team to score and then they did when Tyler Seguin's beautiful cross-ice pass found Daniel Paille open and seconds later the celebration was on.
The result was quite a prize. Maybe Krejci put it best.
"It was a dirty road win, I would say," he said. "We didn't deserve to be only down one after the first but we found a way to grind it out somehow. It's huge going back home. I don't know if it's momentum but we can certainly build off that."
When you talk about teams going on the road in a playoff series, they say they just want to win one of the first two on the road -- steal a game, if you will. What looked like Mission: Impossible after the first 20 minutes became Mission: Complete by the night's end. Now we have a Stanley Cup Final at 1-1 for the first time since 2004.