CHICAGO – Daniel Paille scored in overtime, and the Boston Bruins beat the Chicago Blackhawks 2-1 on Saturday to tie the Stanley Cup finals at one game apiece.
The Blackhawks failed to clear the puck along the boards, and Tyler Seguin picked it up and delivered a cross-ice pass to Paille, who beat Corey Crawford on his glove side for the winner at 13:48 of the extra period.
Game 3 is Monday at Boston.
It’s the second consecutive year that the first two games of the finals have gone to overtime, this one coming after the Blackhawks won a triple-OT thriller 4-3 in Game 1.
Crawford and Boston’s Tuukka Rask again were outstanding in goal after coming up big in the opener, turning away shot after shot in the extra period until Paille scored.
Jaromir Jagr just missed scoring the game-winner in the opening minutes of OT, when his shot from the right circle hit the right post, his second near miss in as many games. Chris Kelly, who scored in the second for Boston, had a shot from the slot stopped by Crawford at 5:39 of overtime.
Rask also stood his ground down the stretch, just as he did in the opening period, when Chicago simply fired away at him.
The Blackhawks swarmed Boston in the early going, taking the lead in the first on Patrick Sharp’s ninth goal of the postseason.
They continued to dictate the tempo until Kelly tied it with just over five minutes remaining in the second. Paille skated out from behind the net, beating Nick Leddy with a neat move for a wraparound shot. Crawford made the save, but Kelly crashed the net and knocked in the rebound to tie it at 1-all.
The Bruins nearly grabbed the lead with just more than a minute remaining, after Paille picked off Duncan Keith’s pass and flipped the puck to a breaking Brad Marchand. He got pulled down by Brent Seabrook as his shot hit the inside of the right post, preserving the tie.
Either way, the Bruins had to like the way the period ended after being dominated most of the way.
They ended up outshooting Chicago 8-4 in the second after getting outgunned 19-4 in that area in the first, with the Blackhawks holding a 28-19 edge through regulation.
Rask had 33 saves while Crawford had 26.
The Bruins nearly took the lead early in the third when Jagr made a cross-ice pass to Marchand for a one-timer. Crawford came across the crease to block it with his body. Boston also had some chances in the closing minutes, with a shot by Jagr getting deflected over the net by Keith and Johnny Boychuk’s attempt from the blue line getting stopped by Crawford.
The Boston rally was in stark contrast to the early game, when the Blackhawks teed off and finally broke through with 8:38 left after Rask stopped a backhand and wrist shot by Patrick Kane.
The flurry continued with a slapshot by Michael Rozsival, and with the Bruins scrambling in the zone, Sharp wound up with the puck on the right side. He fired it past a screened Rask to give the Blackhawks the lead, with the Bruins’ Kaspars Daugavins and Andrew Ference jammed in front trying to cover Dave Bolland.
Chicago continued the siege against Rask, who had 18 saves in the period, but couldn’t add to the lead.
Then again, the Bruins couldn’t get anything going on offense. Sharp alone had more shots than them in the opening period with six, and things didn’t get much better for Boston in the second.
Crawford wasn’t really tested early, other than a nice glove save on a high shot by Jagr midway through the first period and point-blank stop on Rich Peverley with 1:35 remaining. Star wing Nathan Horton was in the lineup for the Bruins after leaving the series opener with an injured left shoulder, a huge boost for a team trying to tie the series.
Horton got tangled up with Chicago’s Niklas Hjalmarsson in the first overtime, a pivotal moment for a key player to go down. But after watching Horton practice on Friday and skate on Saturday, coach Claude Julien declared him ready, saying he saw “absolutely no reason” not to play him.
For excitement alone, it would be hard to match what happened in Game 1, let alone top it.
From the late rally in regulation by the Blackhawks to the string of spectacular saves by Crawford to Jagr’s near-miss off the post and, finally, Andrew Shaw’s double-deflection goal to win it, that one was simply breathtaking. It added up to the fifth-longest Stanley Cup finals game in league history and a 1-0 series lead for Chicago.
Now, the series is tied headed back to Boston.