Game 4 between Blackhawks, Bruins like NBA on ice

Blackhawks forwards Bryan Bickell (right) and Jonathan Toews celebrate Brent Seabrook's (not shown)...

Blackhawks forwards Bryan Bickell (right) and Jonathan Toews celebrate Brent Seabrook's (not shown) overtime game-winning goal against the Bruins during Game 4 of the Stanley Cup final at TD Garden in Boston, June 19, 2013. (HARRY HOW/Reuters/Pool)

STEVE SIMMONS, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:43 AM ET

BOSTON - Tuukka Rask leaned to his left, looked to the outside of Jonathan Toews, tried to look around the three bodies in front of him in overtime.

He leaned left, about as far as he could, and Brent Seabrook’s slapshot went right, about as far as it could go to score, and suddenly a Stanley Cup final that could have gone one-sided was tied at two games apiece.

It was that frenetic, that flawed, that much unlike almost any Stanley Cup final game seen in recent history. This was NBA on ice: Last basket won.

The overtime goal by Seabrook – the second overtime goal by the Chicago Blackhawks defenceman this playoff season – kept his team in play, took the heat off a troublesome night for his goaltender Corey Crawford and altered almost the entire tenor of a back-and-forth game. The 6-5 result was the NHL’s answer to the Miami Heat-San Antonio Spurs classic a night earlier, and now a the series is down to best of three.

One second it looked like the Boston Bruins would lead the series 3-1. The next second it was next team to two wins.

And rarely does a playoff team win a game with such weak goaltending. But it was that kind of up-and-down, back-and-forth, impossible-to-explain night for both the Bruins and Blackhawks.

Crawford, was, to be nice, soft in goal. He allowed five goals on the first 26 shots he faced. Only one came off a rebound. Some thought the Blackhawks should consider the radical move of changing goaltenders for overtime, going from Crawford to backup Ray Emery.

The Bruins, with so much at stake, were almost every bit as flawed as the Hawks. They couldn’t handle Chicago’s speed at times, couldn’t handle the presence of Jonathan Toews at times. And while the Blackhawks had to do what they talked about – get bodies in front of Rask – the winning goal came off exactly that kind of play.

It was welcoming party for the struggling Toews, who played a whole lot more like the mega-star Toews in Game 4. He did almost the improbable on one goal: Scoring and setting up the play. And it was Toews, being tied up by Bruins blueliners Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg on the winning goal, that put Rask in the position of not being able to see the puck.

Rask leaned as far left as he could, outside the crease, to try and see the puck coming towards him. But by the time he picked it up, visually, it was too late. Seabrook’s seeing-eye slapshot hit the back of the net. The series was headed back to Chicago tied.

One shot, in a game of numerous changes, numerous collapses, four special teams goals and the return of Toews and Patrick Kane on the same line, keeps the Blackhawks breathing, maybe thriving, with Game 5 Saturday night at the United Center.

One thing about this series to date: One game seems to have almost no relevance to the next. Wednesday night it was less defined than even that. It wasn’t just that one period had little to do with the next but one shift often had little to do with the next.

For those who have screamed this playoff season about lack of scoring and lack of scoring chances, this game defied logic and history. But it was a roller-coaster ride of a game: A lot of screaming, a lot of tension, a lot of turns, and an ending that was either exhilarating or exhausting, depending on what colour you wore.

In the second period, the Blackhawks led 3-1 and 4-2 and by a goal 4-3 heading to the third. Then it was tied 4-4. And the Hawks up 5-4. And a goal by Johnny Boychuk at 12:46 to tie it 5-5.

And for the final seven minutes or so, there was a breakdown then a chance, a chance then a breakdown. Crawford looked to be a slapshot or snapshot away, probably glove side, from losing the night, basically losing the series.

Seabrook saved his team, but more than that he saved his goalie. There will probably be questions tomorrow about whether Crawford should start Game 5 for the Hawks but he has started every game in the playoffs. Surely, Quenneville can’t change goalies now.

Or does he have to?

But here’s where we are: The Bruins have figured out how to solve Crawford. The Blackhawks have figured out how to counter on the Bruins. The ebb and flow of coaching decisions, altered lines and lineups, have this series locked at two games apiece. There are two days off until Game 5.

Both teams need the time to figure out what happened Wednesday night.


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