Philadelphia, PA – It was only three weeks ago when a Brent Seabrook overtime goal kept the Chicago Blackhawks season from ending in massive disappointment.
On Wednesday night, the defenseman came through in the clutch yet again and this time Seabrook's heroics could be the moment that swung the 2013 Stanley Cup Finals in Chicago's favor.
Chicago entered Game 4 in Boston down 2-1 in the series, and after getting manhandled in a 2-0 loss on Monday the Blackhawks were in desperate need of a bounce-back performance. It was clear early on that Chicago was in better form than the previous game, but whether the rebound effort would be enough to tie the series was in doubt right up until Seabrook's slapshot sailed into the net at 9:51 of overtime, giving the Hawks a thrilling 6-5 victory.
Back on May 29, Seabrook scored a series-clinching goal against Detroit, winning Game 7 in overtime with a pretty wrist shot from the slot. That goal capped a comeback from 3-1 down in the series and spared this year's Presidents' Trophy winners the shame of bowing out in the second round to the seventh-seeded Red Wings.
On Wednesday, Seabrook again found a way to come through at exactly the right time, scoring his third goal of the playoffs and his second one in sudden death.
There was a point in Game 4 when it didn't seem like OT was going to enter into this one at all. In fact, after Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane scored goals just over two minutes apart to stake Chicago to a 3-1 lead early in the second period, it briefly seemed like the Blackhawks' strong start would propel them to an easy victory.
Obviously, the Bruins made sure that wasn't the case.
Boston cut the score to 3-2 with 5:17 left in the second period and was hardly phased when Chicago's Marcus Kruger restored the two-goal edge less than a minute later. Instead, the Bruins used consecutive goals from Patrice Bergeron to tie it up at 4-4 by the time the third period was a little over two minutes old.
The back-and-forth action reached a whole other level when Patrick Sharp restored Chicago's lead at 5-4 with a power-play goal at 11:19 of the third, only to watch Johnny Boychuk even things for Boston a mere 55 seconds later.
There was more pond hockey in the overtime session until Seabrook ended the classic battle by beating Rask, who was dealing with some serious traffic in front of his crease.
"It doesn't matter if I score or anybody else scores, it's nice to get the win and move on to the next day," Seabrook said.
Game 4 was the kind of wild contest that makes one wonder what to expect when these teams reconvene Saturday in Chicago for the next showdown in this series. Was the frenetic pace an anomaly, or was it a sign the Blackhawks are beginning to impose their will?
Prior to Wednesday's open affair, the teams had combined for a total of 12 goals in three games and seven of those tallies came in Game 1's triple overtime clash, which ended up as a 4-3 win for the Blackhawks. The way these teams are built it's easy to see why Chicago has won the two highest-scoring games of this series. Both teams are deep up front, but the Blackhawks are clearly the more dangerous team when the ice begins to open up.
Bruins head coach Claude Julien will be looking for a tighter defensive effort in Game 5 and he believes the key for getting back to the level of play displayed in Games 2 and 3 lies in making better decisions.
"I just think we weren't very sharp in our decision making," Julien said. "Where we talked about we have layers, our D's were pinching, our forwards were not really covering up, weren't totally committed to that part of the game. That's when you saw two-on-ones."
Although the amount of odd-man rushes given up by both sides is enough to give both coaches nightmares before Game 5, Julien knows the fans watching are anything but disappointed at the level of competition in this series so far.
"It's a 2-2 series," Julien added. "I think before it started everybody knew it was going to be a tight series. I don't think anybody that is a fan of hockey is disappointed right now."
You can say that again.