CHICAGO – Patrick Sharp scored his ninth goal of the playoffs, giving the Chicago Blackhawks a 1-0 lead on the Boston Bruins after the first period in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup finals on Saturday night.
The Blackhawks swarmed the Bruins right from the start after escaping with a 4-3 triple-overtime victory in the opener. They outshot Boston 19-4 in the period, a big contrast from the opening minutes of Game 1. The teams felt each other out in that one, but there was none of that from Chicago this time.
Instead, the Blackhawks teed off and finally broke through with 8:38 left after Tuukka Rask stopped a backhand and wrist shot by Patrick Kane.
The flurry continued with a slapshot by Michael Rozsival, and with the Bruins scrambling in the zone, Sharp wound up with the puck on the right side. He fired it past a screened Rask to give the Blackhawks the lead, with the Bruins' Kaspars Daugavins and Andrew Ference jammed in front trying to cover Dave Bolland.
Chicago continued the siege against Rask, who had 18 saves in the period, but couldn't break through.
Corey Crawford wasn't really tested in the early going, other than a nice glove save on a high shot by Jaromir Jagr midway through the period and stopped Rich Peverley point blank with 1:35 remaining.
Star wing Nathan Horton was in the lineup for the Bruins after leaving the series opener with an injured left shoulder, a huge boost for a team trying to tie the series.
Horton got tangled up with Chicago's Niklas Hjalmarsson in the first overtime, a pivotal moment for a key player to go down. But after watching Horton practice on Friday and skate on Saturday, coach Claude Julien declared him ready, saying he saw "absolutely no reason" not to play him.
For excitement alone, it would be hard to match what happened in Game 1, let alone top it. How could they?
From the late rally in regulation by the Blackhawks to the string of spectacular saves by Crawford to Jagr's near-miss off the post and, finally, Andrew Shaw's double-deflection goal to win it, that one was simply breathtaking. It added up to the fifth-longest Stanley Cup finals game in league history and a 1-0 series lead for a team that dominated like no other during the regular season.