The Blackhawks’ frustrations seemed to come to a boiling point when things got a little ugly at the end of Game 3 Monday. The TD Garden crowd of 17,565 roared when Bryan Bickell poked at the bear and wound up getting mauled by Zdeno Chara, while Andrew Shaw and Brad Marchand, mirror-image agitators, grappled with each other on the ice.
Had the Bruins, who were moments away from seizing a 2-1 lead in the Stanley Cup Final, succeeded in ruffling the Blackhawks’ feathers?
“Not really,’’ Marchand said Tuesday. “They seem pretty calm all game. I think at the end of the game, when you’re down by a couple of goals with a few seconds left, things get a little heated and that’s all that happened.’’
A clue to Chicago’s mounting frustration could be found in the following statistic: the Blackhawks have not scored against Tuukka Rask in the last 122 minutes, 26 seconds.
“It’s not something I think about, to be honest with you,’’ said Chicago’s Patrick Sharp, whose first-period goal Saturday highlighted a 19-shot barrage in Game 2. “[Rask’s] tough to score on the same way [Kings goaltender] Jonathan Quick was tough to score on and [Jimmy] Howard was in Detroit.
“We can’t hang our heads that we’re on a streak like that. I guess we’ve got to go out there and try to score in the first period.’’
But, given the way the Bruins have ratcheted up their physical play, it might be easier said than done.
No one would know that utter futility better than Jonathan Toews. The 2013 Selke Trophy winner has compiled 1-8—9 totals this postseason, but has been held off the scoresheet over the last three games.
“I don’t sense a whole lot [of mounting frustration from Toews], to be honest with you,’’ Sharp said. “He’s still contributing in a lot of different areas. I know he wants to score, but he takes a lot of draws, he plays well defensively, he plays heavy minutes for us.
“I’m not too concerned with Johnny. He’s a pro. He knows what he’s doing out there.’’
Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville echoed that sentiment.
“Johnny is a great pro. He’s a competitive guy. I think he’s finding ways to contribute in our team game,’’ Quenneville said. “He started well [Monday]. You got to make sure if you’re not scoring you’re doing other things well. He had the puck a lot. Defensively, he’s responsible.
“I think right now, whether it’s him or our power play, offensively I think we’re all a little gun shy in that area. We want to make sure there’s some composure there, get a spark on our power play, go five-on-five.
“One thing with Johnny, you can always measure how he’s going to be competing, because game in, game out he leaves it out there. Offensively, maybe [he’s] pressing in that area. Certainly it would be nice to get some production and finish to show for it.’’
Against a hard-nosed Bruins’ defense, one that has consistently taken time and space away from the Blackhawks’ speedy wingers, the opportunities to get close to the net have been far and few between.
“It’s tough to get the puck, but we’ve got to be willing in the non-puck area to get there,’’ Quenneville said. “I thought we did a real good job in the LA series. At times, in this series, we’ve had more presence at the front of the net.
“That’s what we’ve got to be looking to do, travel, get there, make sure [Rask] doesn’t see the puck. Conveniently, we put a lot of pucks right in his mitt. We have to have better placement, as well.’’
But, with his battered team looking to salvage a split in Boston, Quenneville said the Blackhawks were going to have to be willing to get a little bit of dirt underneath their fingernails.
“You have to commend [the Bruins]. They’re a well-balanced team,’’ Quenneville said. “They defend well. They have offense as well. We have to make sure that just trying to go one side of it, trying to outscore them, doesn’t play to anybody’s strengths except your opponent’s because they counterpunch well.
“But we want to make sure that when we do get our opportunity, whether it’s on a power play, whether it’s five-on-five, we have to bury our opportunities. We have to score some ugly goals and make sure that it doesn’t have to be pretty.’’Michael Vega can be reached at email@example.com.