CHICAGO — The Blackhawks outshot the Bruins by a whopping 19-4 in the first period. The home team, surrounded by a frenzied crowd at United Center, looked dominant. The Bruins looked slow to react and out of synch. It appeared to be a situation ripe for taking advantage.
But the Blackhawks only could generate one goal despite all that pressure, scored by forward Patrick Sharp at the 11:22 mark.
The Bruins outshot the Blackhawks, 24-15, the rest of the way and after tying it in the second, they notched the 2-1 win at 13:48 of overtime on a Daniel Paille tally.
The frustration, mixed with a measure of utter disbelief, on the face of Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews was palpable.
“That’s the start we were looking for,’’ said Toews. “We wanted to keep our shifts short, play the right way, and do the little things that we have to do and keep our legs fresh and not get overextended, and we just got away from the way we play the game and the way we were playing early on. It had nothing to do with them turning it on. We just started letting them do whatever they wanted to.’’
And Boston got what it wanted, tying the best-of-seven Stanley Cup Final at one game apiece as it shifts to TD Garden for Games 3 and 4.
“We gave them chance after chance and, you saw in the overtime period, we were turning pucks over and they had their way,’’ said Toews. “And obviously, that was the reason they scored the goal in the overtime period. It’s pretty frustrating to give one away.’’
Toews said his teammates can’t dwell on what they did wrong or the fact that they squandered an opportunity to take charge of the series. Instead, he said they need to get back to doing what has made them successful and stick with that.
“You take it one game at a time,’’ said Toews. “There are some parts to our game that we know we can be better at. We have a lot of room to improve. It’s just simple little things, too, that will make a world of difference and make things a lot easier for us.
“It will be a lot easier to play together as five guys out there. We have an opportunity to go into Boston and get back at them and play better than we played tonight.’’
One goal the Blackhawks had going into Game 2 was to erode the Bruins’ confidence. The Bruins had a 2-0 lead in Game 1, but Chicago rallied to win it in the third overtime. Had the Blackhawks been able to get a bigger lead, particularly in the early going, that might have vanquished any chance of a rally.
“It’s 1-all, they’re back in it,’’ said Toews. “They have some confidence coming out of this game that we gave them, but we know we can find a way to take it away. So we’ll go on the road and play a smart team game and try to take back control of the series.’’
Toews said the Blackhawks clearly went away from their game plan, and for no discernible reason.
“It started with just the way we forechecked and the way we tried to get pucks out of our zone,’’ he said. “I think we waited too long, we weren’t moving our feet, and we were caught standing still. We’re easy to check when we do that.
“The same thing goes for the way we were playing in the offensive zone. We were letting them walk out of the zone a little bit too easily again. We just let them kind of play their game and we didn’t make them earn it. It’s a little disappointing considering that.’’
For the Blackhawks, it’s their third straight overtime playoff game dating to the deciding game against the Kings. Toews said it’s something you expect this time of year.
“No one is going to give you anything easy,’’ he said. “We came out with a boatload of shots in the first period and we got one goal, which is good. We’ve got to find a way to build on that because the next goal proved to be a big one.
“They believed they could come back in that game when they got that first one so when you have the momentum, you’ve got to keep it and try your best to hang onto it.’’Nancy Marrapese-Burrell can be reached at email@example.com.