In a very quiet locker room late Saturday night, no one had to tell the Blackhawks what had just happened.
“We let a great opportunity get away from us,” said Patrick Sharp. “I think everyone in here knows that.”
Not that the Hawks thought it would be simple, but after losing 2-1 in overtime of Game 2, the Hawks were left wondering how they weren’t up 2-0 in the Stanley Cup Final instead of being tied at 1-1 in the series.
“We have a few days now to figure out exactly what happened after the first period,” Sharp said. “We were out-chancing them like crazy and then it changed and we need to figure out why.”
By winning Game 2 the Bruins did more than send a message to the Hawks.
They withstood a furious barrage in the first period and stole home ice in the process, proving to the NHL’s top seed that they are every bit as resilient as the Hawks and have every intention of making this a very long and difficult series.
“No one said it was going to be easy,” said Hawks captain Jonathan Toews. “Not everything is going to go your way.”
It was all going the Hawks’ way for the first 20 minutes. They completely dominated the Bruins and got on the board first.
Tuukka Rask gave up a soft rebound of a Patrick Kane shot off the glove, and as Michal Handzus was getting cross-checked into Rask, Sharp turned around and fired it past Rask for the first goal of the game at 11:22.
About four minutes later, Toews had a goal disallowed after a quick ref’s whistle and the Hawks finished the first only up a goal, leaving the Bruins outshot 19-4 but feeling very good about the result.
“We were definitely in survival mode there,” Rask said. “It was good that we were only down 1.”
And the Hawks knew they had let a great opportunity pass to be up 3 or 4 goals after 20 minutes.
“We came out on fire and had a boatload of shots,” Toews said. “When you have the momentum like that, you have to keep it up.”
The Hawks did not, and the Bruins took it back.
Boston controlled much of the second period and scored to tie it when Daniel Paille shook off Nick Leddy behind the net, walked out and put a puck off Corey Crawford. Chris Kelly swooped in and pounded it through a crowd and past Crawford for a 1-1 tie at 14:58 of the second.
“After the first period, a bit of a chat, we got ourselves going,” said Boston coach Claude Julien. “We got our feet moving at the start, then the rest followed, and eventually it just got better.
“We started turning it around. We got better as the game went on. Overtime, that was the best, had a lot of scoring chances there. Like I told our guys, we’ve got to show up on time for these kind of games. It could have cost us tonight.”
The Hawks showed up in a big way at the start but never regained the tempo they had in the first and played right into the Bruins’ hands.
“We just kind of let them play their game,” Toews said. “We were standing around a lot and we let them come out of their zone too easy. Our forecheck was never the same after the first period.”
Brandon Bollig will be considered the goat for failing to collect a puck inside his own blue line on the game-winner, which might mean a return to the lineup of Viktor Stalberg in Game 3, but there was much more to this loss than just one play.
The Hawks simply stopped skating and pressuring the Bruins midway through the game, and they let a crucial chance get away from them.
“It’s the Stanley Cup Final,” Toews said. “Sometimes you’re going to feel good about yourselves like we did after Game 1, and tonight we don’t feel too good.
“Now we have to go on the road and try to take back control of the series.”
And against a team that had no fear of being down 2-0, the Hawks are instead tied at 1-1.
“We got rewarded,” Julien said. “I thought from the second period on we were the better team.”
Julien could argue that his team has been better for at least six and maybe seven of the 10 periods through two games.
The Hawks will have to be the better team for 3 periods Monday night or they’re going to be in a place they won’t like very much.
They’ll be down a game in the Stanley Cup Final.
ŸListen to Barry Rozner from 9 a.m. to noon Sundays on the Score’s “Hit and Run” show at WSCR 670-AM, and follow him @BarryRozner on Twitter.Copyright © 2014 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.