Sports

Bruins beat Blackhawks for 2-1 finals lead

BOSTON – Tuukka Rask shut out the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup finals on Monday night and got enough help from the Bruins’ offense to do it without another exhausting overtime.

After playing four extra periods in the first two games, the Bruins made an early night of it with second-period goals by Daniel Paille and Patrice Bergeron to win 2-0 and take a 2-1 lead in the Stanley Cup finals.

“A win is a win. We’ll take a win any day,” said Rask, who stopped 28 shots for his third shutout of the 2013 playoffs. “We’ll take a regulation win, for sure.”

Corey Crawford made 33 saves for the Blackhawks.

Game 4 is Wednesday night in Boston before the matchup of Original Six franchises returns to Chicago for a fifth game. The teams split the first two games there, with the Blackhawks winning Game 1 in triple-overtime and the Bruins stealing home-ice advantage on Paille’s goal in the first OT of the second game.

But this time the intrigue came before the opening faceoff instead of after the end of regulation.

Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara and Chicago forward Marian Hossa both left the ice after warmups. But while Chara needed just some stitches after his collision with teammate Milan Lucic, Hossa was a late scratch with an unspecified injury.

“I was as surprised as anybody else,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said. “I can definitely tell you they lost a pretty important player on their roster, but that doesn’t mean we change our game. I think it’s important we stick with what we believe in.”

Julien said Chara slipped and “had a little gash over his eye.”

“Nothing serious,” Julien said of his captain and No. 1 defenseman, who still managed to lead the team in ice time.

Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville was less forthcoming with information on Hossa’s malady, sticking to the standard NHL diagnosis: Upper body.

“We’ll say ‘day-to-day.’ We’re hopeful he’ll be ready for the next game,” he said, adding that it did not happen during warmups, as had been reported on the team’s Twitter account. “It was a game-time decision after the warmup there. That’s when we made the call, after warmup.”

Hossa, who has three game-winning goals in the playoffs this year, was tied for the team lead with 15 playoff points and was third on the Blackhawks with 17 goals during the regular season.

It was a loss the Blackhawks couldn’t afford.

“We ran up against some of the best goalies in the league here,” Quenneville said. “Tonight I thought we made it rather easy on him as far as traffic and finding and seeing pucks. I think we’ve got to be better at going to the net.”

Rask, who was a backup to Conn Smythe-winner Tim Thomas in the team’s 2011 Stanley Cup run, didn’t face as difficult a test as in the first period of Game 2, when the Blackhawks sent 19 shots at him but managed just one goal. But he stymied them all game and got some help from the post on Bryan Bickell’s shot with 42 seconds left in the game.

The puck caromed off the right post and the goal light flickered on briefly, but play continued for another 30 seconds before the whistle blew and the game degenerated into fisticuffs. Chara was on top of Bickell, pounding away, and Andrew Shaw got the better of Brad Marchand.

After a scoreless first period, the Bruins made it 1-0 when Paille slapped in the puck at 2:13 of the second. It stayed that way until late in the second, when the Bruins picked up their first power plays of the game on two nearly identical plays, with a Bruin racing to the net and a Blackhawk undercutting his skates and sending him crashing into the left post.

Boston set up its offense during the 11-second two-man advantage, and just 5 seconds after it expired – but before Dave Bolland was able to get back into the play – Jaromir Jagr slid one across the middle, past Lucic in the center to Bergeron on the other side for the easy one-timer.

It was Jagr’s 197th career playoff point in 199 games, moving him into sole possession of fifth place on the NHL’s all-time postseason points list.



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