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Inept Chicago power play better for Bruins than Blackhawks in Game 3

06.18.13 at 2:18 am ET
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Twice in the third period of Game 3 on Monday, the Blackhawks got to send some of the game’s most talented scorers out on the power play in a game the Bruins led by just two goals. And twice in that period – just like the three previous times in the first two periods – they came up empty-handed.

In five power-play opportunities on Monday, the Hawks managed just four shots and gave up at least that many shorthanded chances to the Bruins. They’ve been woeful on the power play this postseason, converting just 11.3 percent of the time, and running into a strong Bruins penalty kill certainly hasn’t helped them settle in with the man advantage.

“They box you out,” Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said of the Bruins. “They’ve got big bodies. They blocked shots. I think we had some chances to get some pucks through the net. We didn’t. Our entries weren’t great. That’s something you want to look at.”

Entering the zone was indeed a problem for Chicago, although they also struggled at times to hold the puck in at the blue line once they had gained the zone. Several times on their first two power plays of the game, a defenseman lost the puck at the point (granted, the subpar condition of the ice might have had something to do with that) and had to waste valuable seconds chasing it down.

Slumping on the power play is one thing, but giving up three prime shorthanded chances within two minutes is another problem entirely. With Shawn Thornton in the box late in the first period, the Bruins took advantage of the Hawks’ sloppy puck control, requiring Corey Crawford to bail his teammates out again and again.

First, Rich Peverley chased down a puck in Chicago’s defensive zone and came within inches of stuffing it past Crawford on a second-chance attempt. Then Daniel Paille forced Crawford to come out near the right face-off dot to knock a loose puck away from him, in the absence of any Chicago defenders.

Finally, Brad Marchand broke free of the Chicago defense, bolted through center ice and was only foiled at the last second when the puck slid off his stick too early in front of the net (possibly another product of the bad ice).

In the end, none of those pucks made it into the net. But neither did any of the four Chicago threw at Tuukka Rask with the man advantage, partly to Rask’s credit and partly to the credit of the Boston penalty killers who limited the Hawks to perimeter shots.

The Boston crowd clearly recognized the import of the Bruins’ second-to-last penalty kill in particular. With Adam McQuaid in the box and just over 10 minutes remaining in the game, Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg shoveled puck after puck the length of the ice, preventing Chicago from setting up, and they got a standing ovation for their efforts when McQuaid exited the box.

Patrick Sharp, who was among the Blackhawks stifled on the power play, said there’s nothing going wrong mentally for Chicago on the power play and that they just have to keep creating opportunities.

“I think we’ll take power plays – as many as they want to give us, we’ll take them,” Sharp said. “It doesn’t matter what the numbers are, what the stats say. It’s a chance to be out there 5-on-4 and outwork them and get chances. It was ugly at times, but there were also some times when we had scoring opportunities.”

Against a strong defensive team like the Bruins, power plays should provide an opportunity to create offensive chances that wouldn’t exist otherwise. Quenneville acknowledged Monday that those chances were hard to come by for the Hawks.

“It’s hard to get A-plus chances,” Quenneville said. “You have to manufacture the second, kind of ugly goals, tip screens, deflections. If they give up the rush, they’re not going to give up much, even though we had a couple looks in the third. The frequency of having high-quality chances in this series at both ends has not been there.”

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