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Sunday, October 16, 2011

Bruins Outlast the Blackhawks 3-2 in Shootout



Are there must win NHL games in October? After the Bruins' 1-3 stumble out of the gate, many looked towards Saturday's game in Chicago as an opportunity to test their mettle against one of the best teams in the league. I don't want to say that a loss would have been panic inducing but it certainly would be cause for concern.

In a battle of two Original Six teams, Saturday night did not disappoint. Tim Thomas made some insane saves and Tyler Seguin scored the game-winner in the shootout for the Bruins.

Bryan Bickell and Patrick Kane scored in regulation for the Blackhawks, while Nathan Horton and Chris Kelly scored for the Bruins.

Chicago set the tone early in the game, as their high energy style of play led to some quality scoring chances in the first. Kane walked in all alone and had a point blank opportunity. Thomas stayed at home and read Kane perfectly, gloving Kane's top shelf attempt. He wasn't done yet, as Kane carried the puck into the Bruins zone, before pulling off a ridiculous spin move on Joe Corvo before unleashing a nasty backhanded attempt, which Thomas turned away.

The Hawks got on the board first, taking advantage of a careless turnover by Andrew Ference that was intercepted by Bickell who walked in all alone, beating Thomas five-hole to give Chicago the early lead.

The Bruins got on the board early in the second while on the penalty kill. Ference blocked a shot from Brent Seabrook that bounced into the neutral zone, setting up a 2-on-1 that saw Chris Kelly take a perfect feed from Rich Peverley and lifted the puck (hope Looch was watching) to beat Chicago goalie Corey Crawford and tie the game.

Less than two minutes later, Kane got his revenge for getting stoned in the first by wristing a shot past Thomas to put the Hawks back on top.

Later in the third, Horton took a feed from Boychuk, who was stationed at the end boards and found the back of the net.

Overtime featured a pair of quality scoring chances from the Bruins. First it was Seidenberg who rang the post on a blast from the blue line and next was a breakaway attempt from Peverley that was unsuccessful.

In the shootout, Seguin beat Crawford five-hole while Thomas stopped Kane, Jonathan Toews and Patrick Sharp. The B's improve to 2-3 while the Blackhawks suffered their first loss (2-1-1).

Game Notes

* My boy Jack Edwards is already in mid-season form, first making fun of the guys on Versus for mispronouncing "Caron" and then later unleashing a classic one liner, yelling "Catamount on Catamount crime!" when Thomas stopped Sharp in the third. Both were UVM alums. He's the best.

* It's always fun to see two Original Six teams play but I'm sure that I'm not alone in wanting more, especially from the Western Conference teams. There is no logical reason why we should not play Chicago and Detroit once, maybe twice a season. I'll give up a game against the Panthers to have an extra Western Conference team. For a sport on the upswing, there's no reason that fans cannot be treated to more marquee matchups.

* Boychuk had a hell of a game. Not only did he set up Horton on the game-tying goal, but he also was a monster in his own end, crushing Toews who was stick handling through the zone before getting put on his ass. He also had a crazy shift in the first, taking a hit from Carcillo before blocking a shot. He was clearly in pain on both instances but stayed on the ice like a champ.

* It won't show up on the scoresheet but Gregory Campbell demonstrated his value to the team once again last night. His fight in the first helped shake the cobwebs off of the team. Dude is game and will throw down with anyone. I love it.

* Kane is one of the best pure offensive talents in the game as displayed last night. He's great in open space but can also use his world class stickhandling to open up space for himself. His move on Corvo was something I'd pull off in NHL '12. You just don't see stuff like that everyday.

* Overall, this was a quality win for the Bruins. A great game against a great team where they relied equally on their superb goaltending as well as strong team play. All lines came to play, which is something they usually need in order to be successful.




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