Chicago Blackhawks show depth, capture Game 1 4-3 in 3OT - FOX 35 News Orlando

Blackhawks show depth, capture Game 1 4-3 in 3OT

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

It remains to be seen if the Chicago Blackhawks are the best team in the NHL, but there should be little doubt they are the most exciting club to watch. In front of a crowd of 22,110, Chicago edged Boston 4-3 in triple overtime to take the first game of the Stanley Cup Finals.

The Hawks took the hard way in drawing three victories away from capturing the Cup as they trailed for the entire game. In the third extra period the winning goal was scored by Andrew Shaw who was the best player for the Blackhawks in Game 1.

The experience of Michal Rozsival showed as he sent a well-directed shot toward the Boston net while two Hawk forwards stood in front. The puck deflected off of Dave Bolland's stick and then Shaw's leg as it went past a stunned Tuukka Rask.

The argument could be made that the Bruins didn't deserve to lose as they did play well. The Blackhawks got some lucky breaks at the end of regulation and during the overtime session. That is part of the game and the Bruins realize excuses can't be made when up by two goals in the third period.

Luck always matters when it comes to playoff success and the Bruins know the same. The Penguins hit iron with about eight shots over their final two games as they were swept by Boston in the Eastern Conference Finals.

It was a wide open Milan Lucic who scored the Bruins first and second goals and put Boston up by two. The Hawks got caught puck watching and were out of position. Corey Crawford probably would like to have another chance on the second goal but he really couldn't be faulted on either. When Patrice Bergeron scored at 6:09 of the third frame to give the Bruins a 3-1 lead it looked like they were well on their way to capture Game 1.

Brandon Saad deservedly scored the first goal for Chicago and was one of the most noticeable forwards throughout the night. Saad also came on in a player change just before Johnny Oduya tied the score at three. It was Saad who replaced Brandon Bollig and went to the front of the net to set a screen as the puck deflected in off the skate of Andrew Ference.

Marcus Kruger, Michael Frolik and Bollig as the fourth line had a fine game. It actually was much more than just a fine performance. The trio played meaningful minutes and caused problems for the Bruins. The fourth line was a big boost for the Hawks and an option Joel Quenneville went to often.

It was the third line that got the Hawks back into the contest and was the biggest part of the victory. As is often the case, the third line is key for success when the going gets tough in the playoffs.

It was Bolland, Shaw and Bryan Bickell who were on the ice for two of the four Chicago goals. They were the Hawks most effective group as Bolland and Shaw were not on for any Boston goals.

Crawford fought through some rocky times and got a bit of help from the post and his teammates. Once again in the end, Crawford outplayed his counterpart and was great during overtime when Boston had an edge in play.

Rask probably could play better as he gave up quite a few rebounds but the Bruins defense was strong. The Boston defenders made it a long night for Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and others as they also blocked a total of 40 shots.

The Blackhawks would have been faced with an even more pressure-packed Game 2 if they didn't find a way to outlast Boston in Game 1.

It was Quenneville who utilized his roster correctly and coached the game like he had more options. At least for Wednesday night, that was exactly the case for the Blackhawks. Except for Marian Hossa, who recorded an assist, all of the top forwards were held without a point.

Duncan Keith led the game in ice time with 48:40 but no other Chicago defender played more than 40 minutes. The Bruins had four defensemen with over 40 minutes of playing time, with three playing over 45 minutes each.

We will see how the coaching strategy plays out the rest of the series. For now put a big check mark by Quennevile's name as he pushed all the right buttons. Boston head coach Claude Julien will have his hands full with trying to maneuver as long as Quenneville can keep rolling four lines.

It's too early for Blackhawk fans to discount the Bruins chances. They play an efficient game and could have easily won Game 1. Quenneville and his group did many good things and will look to continue their path to the Cup on Saturday night.

Al's Shots

What was very important for the Hawks in Game 1 as the night wore on, the Bruins were forced to play at a fast pace. That happens not because Boston necessarily wants to trade chances and play outside of their comfort zone but because the Hawks are controlling the puck.

The Bruins have about 70% of the same lineup as when they won the Cup two years ago. They actually have more recent Stanley Cup experience on their roster than the Blackhawks.

It bodes well for the Hawks chances that players like Shaw, Saad, Kruger, Bickell, Bollig, and Nick Leddy didn't suffer any stage fright. The young Hawks stood out and played well within themselves and were difference makers.

The Bruins did block a lot of shots and the big wind ups at the point from Keith and others probably should change. For the most part the Hawks didn't allow the Bruin point men too much space.

The Hawks will have to do a better job of not running around in their own zone and puck watching. Lucic capitalized two times from a prime goal scoring area as the Hawks will look to tighten things up for Game 2.

Replacing Viktor Stalberg with Bollig turned out to be the correct move. The Hawks fourth line outplayed their Bruin counterparts.

It still is amazing to see the punishment Kruger absorbs. Once again Frolik and Kruger were a perfect duo on the penalty kill although Boston did have one power play tally.

The Blackhawks power play couldn't get much worse, so maybe there is nowhere to go but up.

What could turn out to be a significant loss for Boston, Nathan Horton left the game late in the first OT session. Horton is a big power forward and usually makes his mark in the playoffs. He left with an apparent arm/shoulder injury but there is no official word on his status for Game 2.

The Bruins are a very solid faceoff club but the Hawks managed to win 49% of the draws.

The Blackhawks also outhit the big bad Bruins 61-59. Go figure.

Ference led the game with 10 hits but the Hawks had three players, Shaw, Bickell and Bollig who were credited with nine hits each.

The Hawks outshot Boston 63-54 and if they can do a better job of getting to rebounds it could be a long series for Rask.

I will be back on Sunday morning and you can follow me on Twitter @AlCimaglia.

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