The Boston Bruins defeated the Chicago Blackhawks to 2 - 1 in overtime Wednesday night at the United Center, Robin Lehner’s outstanding performance with 38 saves was all for not as Charlie McAvoy got the game-winning goal in overtime giving the Bruins their fifth straight victory. Jaroslav Halak also had a strong game making 21 saves having players like Jonathan Toews, Brandon Saad and others pointless. The Bruins still hold their ground with a 33 - 10 - 12 record as a Blackhawks slip to 25 - 21 - 8.
It wouldn't take long before Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron tested Lehner but he came up with two stops in the opening minute, Drake Caggiula had a good scoring chance for the Blackhawks but Halak was ready to play as well. The Bruins would start to play with grit as Brandon Carlo hit Saad, Zdeno Chara on Toews and Anders Bjork nailed Adam Boqvist. The Bruins lived in the Blackhawks zone for the majority of the period but Lehner made two spectacular saves on David Krejci, both of them with the glove. The first would end with the Bruins out shooting the Blackhawks 16 - 5, sadly this is not a typo.
In the second, the Blackhawks got a jolt of energy as Ryan Carpenter laid out Carlo and Dylan Strome had a quality shot on net. Krejci went to the box for boarding and the Blackhawks would get the first goal as Alex DeBrincat scored blockerside on Halak, Patrick Kane and Kirby Dach with the assists. For a while both teams played scrimmage until the pace picked up with block shots and hits but in due time, Sean Kuraly made a nasty around the net turn around shot to tie the game up at one as the puck squeaked by the five-hole of Lehner, Matt Grzelcyk and Bjork would pick up the assists. Nearly four minutes later, Jeremy Lauzon was called for high-sticking, Halak along with one of the elite PK teams in the NHL didn’t break a sweat as the Blackhawks couldn't muster a shot on the power play.
The Blackhawks would pepper around the Bruins net at the start of the third as DeBrincat, Erik Gustafsson and Strome all had shots on goal in the first twenty seconds! It would soon be Lehner’s turn as he stopped Chara and Kuraly ten seconds apart. Saad would serve two minutes for slashing but Lehner continued to play like his days with the Ottawa Senators stopping superstars Marchand and David Pastrnak on the power play. Soon enough, the Bruins and Blackhawks were both guilty of penalties, Alexander Nylander for tripping and Pastrnak for embellishment. Halak made saves on Duncan Keith and Olli Maatta as the Bruins offense disappeared during the four on four. Chris Wagner was called for slashing but Halak did his thing with a stop on DeBrincat keeping it one all. The Blackhawks would play Russian roulette late in the third as Zack Smith went to the penalty box with under 3 minutes left for an illegal check to the head of Torey Krug, and moments later, Bergeron surprised Carpenter with an uncalled cross check to the face only to have Carpenter tagged with a ten minute misconduct that lead him to be thrown out of the game after letting the referees know exactly how he felt about their officiating. The Blackhawks defense and Lehner did not let their emotions get the best of them as they worked together to clamp down on the Bruins but for a moment it looked as if Caggiula scored the game winning goal for the Blackhawks with 1:05 remaining but the goal was called back as the refs declared Maatta made a hand pass. After review, it appeared the puck touched Maatta’s stick and the call was never reversed. However, prior to the call on Maatta’s hand pass, Krug was assessed a delayed penalty for tripping but with the hometown crowd in a frenzy the whistle was never heard. In overtime, Krejci found Debrusk who hit McAvoy, first of the season, off the cross creaser to give the Bruins a 2 - 1 overtime win.
A tough one to swallow for the Blackhawks as they were on the wrong end of a couple of missed calls, Carpenter’s misconduct and Caggiula’s no goal but this could have been avoided if they played with a bit more intensity in the first period like they did in the second and third. Despite the loss, Lehner should keep his head up high as this should be a statement to the organization he should not get traded before the deadline. What about the other backup goalie who is playing lights out on the other end of the ice? Halak now has a 14 - 6 - 6 record with a .921 save percentage this season, rarely do you see a thirty four year old goalie play at this level especially after a ten day rest for the All-Star game. With both goalies playing like they have been lately with a solid defense coming up huge when they need it most, dare I say there could be another cup run in their future?