High-scoring Game 4 flips Stanley Cup Final script
CHICAGO — So much for all the talk about the impenetrable goalies, and forget about those lane-clogging defensemen. It was all about the offense in Game 4, and the hangover could extend into the final three games of the deadlocked Stanley Cup Final.
Chicago's 6-5 overtime victory Wednesday at Boston was the highest-scoring game in this year's NHL playoffs. There were breakaways, rebounds, long slap shots and tips. Eleven goals in all, coming from all over the ice.
It all raises questions about how the remainder of this compelling series will look.
“I guess a series like this can take some unexpected turns sometimes, and you saw that last night,” Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews said. “I'm not going to make any predictions for what happens in the next game, but obviously, there's a lot of things we want to carry into this game, Game 5, here.”
The biggest variable could be the recovery of goalies Tuukka Rask of the Bruins and Corey Crawford of the Blackhawks, who have a couple days to find their game again before the series resumes Saturday in Chicago.
Rask and Crawford had been the best two goalies in the playoffs before each of them stumbled under heavy pressure in Game 4. Rask gave up too many prime rebound opportunities, and Crawford was beaten repeatedly on his glove side.
“Every goal is stoppable, but I don't think there was any weak one, so to speak,” said Rask, who was coming off a 2-0 shutout and had allowed just eight goals in the previous eight playoff games. “Mistakes piled up, and I wasn't able to bail our guys out. Sometimes you do; sometimes you don't.”
Crawford was great in each of the first two finals games in Chicago. He had 51 saves in the three-overtime series opener, keeping the Blackhawks in the game long enough for Andrew Shaw to score the winning goal in a 4-3 victory.
Crawford had 33 stops when the series shifted to Boston for Game 3, but Chicago was unable to get going against Rask.
And then came more of the glove-side problems Wednesday that the Bruins have exploited all series long.
“A couple tough breaks last night, especially when we had the lead at 3-1 or 4-2, Boston is going to open up a little bit,” Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane said. “I think, for us, that we can play better defensively, maybe get in some shooting lanes and block some of those shots.”
The glove-side issue is a tricky one for coach Joel Quenneville and the Blackhawks, who know that's where the Bruins are trying to go but don't want Crawford to focus so much on that area that it gets into his head.
“We're very comfortable with Corey,” Quenneville said.