Chicago Blackhawks get down and dirty, outlast Boston 6-5 in OT - FOX 35 News Orlando

Blackhawks get down and dirty, outlast Boston 6-5 in OT

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

In a must win situation the Chicago Blackhawks found a way to turn the tide on the Boston Bruins and came away with a 6-5 overtime decision. The game wasn't a work of art for hockey purists but it was a highly entertaining contest. Style points never mattered much, and Wednesday night the Hawks didn't get care about being pretty, which was the main reason they evened the series.

Joel Quenneville finally relented and reunited Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews. Quenneville joked after the game that he was proven wrong for separating those two and Bryan Bickell. Following their success in Game 4 and Game 5 versus Los Angeles it was a curious move to break up that line.

Quenneville's decision to put the line back together paid instant dividends as Kane and Toews both scored goals. Actually the impact was greater than scoring two goals.

That line helped to push the pace all night and the Hawks were able to keep the speed of the game to their liking. Toews and Kane were on the ice while the Hawks scored four of their six goals. Bickell also had his best game in awhile and was credited with two assists, three shots on goal and six hits.

Beyond scoring goals the trio also showed the Bruins top two defenders, Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg, they will have their work cut out for them. Chara finished the night a minus three and the pair was on the ice for the last three Chicago goals. Quenneville really had no choice but to finally come at Chara and Seidenberg head on as the Chicago offense get back in the groove.

Brent Seabrook has a knack for making accurate shots in OT of important games and Wednesday night was no exception. His drive at 9:51 of the extra frame went past Tuukka Rask, who made some very good stops but didn't have his best performance. Much of that had to do with Chicago forwards making life rough on Rask.

Give the Blackhawks credit for scoring dirty goals from in close, setting good screens and also getting one by Rask on a deflection. Rask like Jonathan Quick and Jimmy Howard won't usually get beat by long range shots that he can see. It takes a lot of work to out battle a strong team like Boston and gain position in close, but the Blackhawks paid the price and it led to success.

A cause for concern was some weak glove side goals allowed by Corey Crawford. Almost every shot the Bruins take is headed for Crawford's glove side and with good purpose. Crawford has a problem with his glove hand from time to time and Wednesday night he looked very tentative.

Crawford can't get beat as he was on a couple of goals for the Hawks to survive but he did come up big when it counted. Crawford made a handful of great saves but most noticeable were those at the end of the second frame.

The Blackhawks defense needs to be better as well, as the five goals Boston scored weren't caused by Crawford's weak glove hand.

The Hawks have given too much time and space to Boston players in prime goal scoring areas all series. The Bruins have been accurate shooters and their defensemen have made an impact in the playoffs by scoring. Defenseman Johnny Boychuk and others have big shots.

Boychuk tied the game at five by being able to step into a shot from well inside the blueline. The Hawks will have to be more aware of their spacing because so far it has been too easy for Bruin shooters.

Crawford will have to regain confidence before Game 5 on Saturday night. He looked very tentative and appeared like he was guessing instead of reacting to Bruins shots. After other subpar performances Crawford has bounced back in the past, and he needs to return to better form for the Hawks to win the series.

Michal Handzus played a better game and worked hard to score the first goal of the night. Handzus still is struggling in the faceoff circle and wouldn't be my first choice to be the second line center but he had good game Wednesday night.

Marian Hossa returned and didn't look himself. Whatever ails Hossa may bother him for the rest of the series. He admitted he wasn't fully recovered, but Hossa at only 70% may be better than any replacement.

Duncan Keith finished the night a plus three but sometimes stats can be misleading. Keith struggled for much of the game and Johnny Oduya wasn't in top form either. Blackhawk defensemen haven't played at their best level in this series and maybe that time will come.

Nick Leddy only played four shifts which equaled 2:37 of ice time. After the game Quenneville was asked about Leddy and said he was fine. It's hard to believe Leddy was 100% healthy and had his minutes cut so drastically.

If Leddy was sat down, Quenneville was fortunate the game didn't last much longer because as it was Keith had over 32 minutes of ice time. Leddy can be better no doubt, but the same can be said for almost every other defender.

After the game the camera panned the Hawks bench and Leddy seemed to have trouble getting over the boards. Maybe he is suffering from a pulled muscle or other ailment, or Quenneville could have given a 100% accurate comment in saying Leddy was fine.

My opinion of Quenneville's strategy doesn't flip flop dependent on if the Blackhawks win or not.

For Chicago to be even in this series is fortunate for Quenneville, he appeared guilty of coaching somewhat scared. Wednesday night he relied on his best players and put them in a position to succeed and they did.

The Hawks have the more complete roster, although that is getting more difficult to say with Dave Bolland and Andrew Shaw only seeing the ice for 11:19 and 12:40 respectively. Going with only five defensemen, if Leddy was healthy, isn't the best use of depth either.

Going into the series the Hawks depth and their ability to win low scoring and high scoring games was the difference for me. It will be interesting to see how Quenneville allocates ice time going forward as the series is now even.

The Hawks played a tougher game but also dictated the pace for the most part. If they can keep the tempo high and also tighten up defensively they will be difficult to beat. That said the Bruins proved they can go up and down the ice and score goals too.

What the Blackhawks accomplished besides reclaiming home ice advantage is they made a stand. They were not afraid to take a hit to make a play.

Patrick Sharp had a goal but beyond scoring he leads by example. Sharp plays bigger than his size and wins board battles. He was guilty of a costly turnover but the effort of Sharp on every shift is noticeable. The same can be said for others Wednesday night.

At this point all the Hawks have to do to win another Stanley Cup is to capture both remaining games at the United Center. It sound easy but the Bruins are too good and strong willed to assume they won't compete hard as they have in every game.

Bruins bench boss Claude Julien commented after the game he wasn't happy with his team's performance. Now it might be time for Julien to become more reactive as Chara was on the ice for five of the six Blackhawk goals. Julien will look to slow the pace down on Saturday and play a more close checking game.

It's time now for everyone to step up, including Quenneville, as the Hawks have still been outplayed in most periods in the series. What's done is done and fortunately the Hawks are in a fine position now to win the series.

On the positive side of the ledger the Hawks finally scored on the power play and Marcus Kruger was rewarded by potting an important goal.

Even though they squandered two goal leads more than once, the Hawks return home a more confident bunch. If they lost Wednesday night in OT after scoring five goals in regulation and with a shaky Crawford, chances are the Bruins would walk away with the Cup.

As it is now a win in Game 5 puts the Blackhawks in a great position. Crawford and team defense will need to be better, and so does Quenneville for the Hawks to come away with another Stanley Cup.

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

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