Blackhawks vs. Bruins, Stanley Cup Final Game 3: Series heads to Boston tied at 1-1

Bruce Bennett

There hasn't been much to separate the Bruins and Blackhawks in the first two games and a shift of setting doesn't figure to change that.

Two games, four overtimes and the Chicago Blackhawks and Boston Bruins have nothing to separate them in the Stanley Cup Final. The two teams followed up Game 1's epic three overtime Blackhawks win with overtime again in Game 2, this time a Bruins win, and now head to Boston with the series knotted at 1-1.

That the Bruins even had a chance to get to overtime and win Game 2 is a miracle considering how the first period went. The Blackhawks outshot the Bruins, 19-4, in the first 20 minutes and had it not been for the heroics of Tuukka Rask and a lot of luck, they would have been down by four or five goals, not 1-0.

But Lady Luck was on the Boston bench and the Bruins dominated for the rest of the game. They held Chicago to just 15 shots in the next two periods and overtime, while outhitting the Blackhawks, 50-34, and after a goal by Chris Kelly tied the game and Daniel Paille netted the overtime winner to tie the series.

The series now turns to Boston, where the Bruins have won six straight. Not only that, but they have allowed just 1.8 goals per game in that stretch, a number that very well might go lower in Game 3 with the spectacular form that Rask has been in.

After getting badly outhit and losing the physical battle in Game 2, the Blackhawks are going to stop trying to match the Bruins' physicality in Game 3 and will instead try to outskate Boston by inserting Viktor Stalberg into the lineup. He'll replace the big Brandon Bollig, who couldn't get a hold of a loose puck in the Chicago defensive zone before Boston got it and scored the game-winner in Game 2.

There hasn't been much to separate the teams in each of the first two games, with both requiring extra hockey to find a winner. That doesn't figure to change much in Boston, but the Bruins have home ice now, and will look to parlay that and their momentum into a Stanley Cup Final series lead.

Who has more gas left in the tank?

The Bruins and Blackhawks got a break with two days off after their Game 1 marathon, but they had to play another extra period in Game 2 and this time they only had one day off, plus travel. Whichever team can keep their legs moving while the other team wilts will be in the driver's seat in Game 3 and while Chicago looked tired at the end of Game 2, Boston looked lifeless in the beginning so there isn't any clear indication which team will get heavy legged first.

Can Chicago crack the Boston power play?

The Bruins have killed off their last 22 penalties and, frankly, haven't needed much luck to do it either. They haven't allowed many good opportunities and while Tuukka Rask has been called upon to make some good saves, he hasn't had to bail Boston out any more than a goaltender normally has to on the penalty kill. Chicago showed a little more life with the man advantage in Game 2, but while they got the puck in the zone, they didn't generate a ton of chances.

Will Viktor Stalberg give the Blackhawks a spark?

The Swede has just three assists in the playoffs, a disappointing spell that earned him a pair of healthy scratches to start the series, but his speed was an asset for the Blackhawks in the regular season and they're hoping it can be again in Boston.

More in the NHL:

Complete Stanley Cup Playoffs coverage

Why you shouldn’t cheer for Chicago, by a Boston fan

’Boston must pay,’ writes a Chicago fan

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