After a one-game absence because of an undisclosed injury, Blackhawks right wing Marian Hossa was back in the lineup for Game 4 at TD Garden.
Much speculation followed Hossa’s late scratch before Game 3. Some reports had it as an upper-body injury but on Comcast SportsNet, former Blackhawk Tony Amonte said his sources told him it was a groin problem.
Coach Joel Quenneville wouldn’t be pinned down on whether Hossa was hurt during warmups or aggravated an existing injury.
Hossa said he made the decision to return right before the start of Game 4. He said it had been hard to watch Game 3.
“If you cannot go, you cannot go,’’ Hossa said after the Blackhawks evened the series at 2 with a 6-5 overtime win. “You almost feel useless there, right? Today was a different decision, extra day. So I decided I could help a little bit and I’m glad we won. We wanted to come to Boston and win at least one game. It’s good momentum for us. It’s going to be a battle at home but we have to play a strong game like we did tonight. It was a fun game, it was fun for the fans and for everybody.’’
When asked if the wide-open nature of the game helped ease whatever was ailing him, Hossa said he just tried to do what he could.
“I just tried to jump and find a way to help my team to play,’’ said Hossa, who earned an assist on Patrick Sharp’s third-period goal. “I tried to contribute a little bit [that] I could and I’m glad we won.’’
Sharp made it sound as if the Blackhawks knew Hossa was dealing with something before testing himself in warm-ups prior to the start of Game 3.
“It was late to you guys,’’ said Sharp. “We weren’t surprised. It’s the time of year where a lot of guys on both sides are questionable for every game.’’
Former Boston College standout Ben Smith went in for Hossa, though he didn’t take the warmup because Quenneville didn’t want to tip his hand.
Not having Hossa certainly didn’t help the Blackhawks’ anemic offense. The team went into Game 4 scoreless in 122 minutes, 25 seconds dating to Sharp’s goal in the first period of Game 2. It took only 6:48 for the Blackhawks to end the scoreless streak Wednesday night.
“You take a guy like that out of the lineup, it hurts, but it’s definitely not the excuse we’re going to use,’’ said Sharp. “We were prepared for it. It’s nothing that really affected our team too much.
“Obviously, we all know what kind of player Hoss is, but we were ready to play with or without him. I thought Smitty did a great job jumping in at the last minute.
“We have a deep team, and it’s been the key to our success all season. Smitty jumped in and had a heck of a game [under] the circumstances.’’
Hossa did not participate in the morning skate Wednesday.
Quenneville defended Hossa’s absence from Game 3, which in some circles was seen as a lack of commitment given how much was on the line.
“If he could play, he would play, so we don’t need to discuss that,’’ said the coach. “We know how competitive he is and what he means to our team.’’
Working on it
In the first three games of this series, the Blackhawks lost more faceoffs than they won. In Games 1 and 2, they won 89 but lost 97. Game 3, though, was abysmal, with Chicago winning just 16 of 56 (29 percent).
“We’ve looked at it, dissected it, really spent some time on it the last couple of days to know we have to be more aware of what they’re up to,’’ said Quenneville. “Let’s make sure we win more than our share, because it was a very abnormal, one-sided last game and could have been the difference in the game.”
The Blackhawks improved in Game 4, winning 38 of 77, only one fewer than the Bruins.
On the rebound
Game 3 marked the second time this postseason that the Blackhawks were held without a goal. The Red Wings beat them, 2-0, in Game 4 of the Western Conference semifinals. The six goals they scored in their Game 4 win was a postseason high . . . Goaltender Corey Crawford went into Game 4 with a record of 13-7 in the postseason. His save percentage of .936 was second only to Boston’s Tuukka Rask (.946). He also was second in goals-against average (1.74) to Rask (1.64). Rask had three shutouts in 19 games to one for Crawford, who blanked the Minnesota Wild in Game 4 of the Western Conference quarterfinals.
Nancy Marrapese-Burrell can be reached at email@example.com.