The Chicago Blackhawks came into Thursday’s game riding high from their trouncing of the Anaheim Ducks on Tuesday. In a rematch of the 2013 Stanley Cup Final, the Boston Bruins would be the one to stake a claim on the significance of 17 seconds, scoring the game-winner with 17.2 seconds left.
The Bruins got on the scoreboard first. Boston’s Charlie Coyle forced a neutral zone turnover and got the puck to Craig Smith. Smith swung the puck over to defenseman Connor Clifton. Clifton drove the puck hard to the net. Kevin Lankinen fended off the Clifton shot attempt, but the rebound caromed over to Coyle in the left dot. Coyle blasted a shot past Lankinen for the game’s first goal.
Less than two minutes later, Alex DeBrincat tipped the puck over to Patrick Kane as they cleared their defensive zone. Kane wheeled into the Boston zone and drew the coverage. He then sent a beautiful pass over to DeBrincat, who buried the pass for the game’s tying goal.
The first period ended with the Blackhawks and Bruins tied at 1–1.
Early in the second period, Jonathan Toews forced a turnover in the neutral zone and found Brandon Hagel streaking into the Bruins’ zone. Hagel then skated around the net and completed his wrap-around that stunned the Boston defense, putting the visitors ahead 2–1.
After the Hagel goal, the Blackhawks started their short-term lease on the penalty box. The first penalty was committed by Henrik Borgstrom, who was caught hooking David Pastrnak. Despite the penalty, the Blackhawks were able to survive this penalty-kill unscathed.
Less than three minutes later, Jake McCabe put his stick in the face of Taylor Hall to earn himself a high sticking penalty. During the odd-man situation, Boston was able to capitalize and tie the game at 2–2, as Boston defenseman Jack Ahcan fired a rebound past Lankinen for his first NHL goal.
With the Blackhawks still reeling, Connor Murphy committed the team’s third penalty of the period. The Bruins came into the game with the seventh-best power play in the NHL. Their power play unit was on full display as Pastrnak scored the go-ahead goal from the circle to put the home side ahead 3–2.
The second period ended with the Blackhawks trailing by one goal.
After being on the penalty kill for the majority of the second period, it was refreshing for the Hawks to be on the power play in the third. With their best scoring chance winding down, Kane entered the zone with a 3-on-2 advantage. Kane feathered a pass over to DeBrincat, who fired a shot that was stopped by Jeremy Swayman. With the rebound out front, Hagel cleaned up the chance for his second goal of the game, leveling the score at 3–3.
Despite controlling the first part of the third period, the Blackhawks could not wrestle the lead away from Boston. Midway through the period, the momentum of the game swung in Boston’s favor. The Bruins peppered Lankinen with wave after wave of shots. With less than a minute remaining, the Blackhawks lost a controversial face-off in their own zone. The puck then took a lucky bounce over to Pastrnak, who blasted a shot past the Blackhawks netminder for the game-winner.
The Blackhawks lost in a heartbreaker 4–3.
The Blackhawks continue to get tremendous value from Brandon Hagel. When the Blackhawks signed Hagel as a free agent out of the WHL, they could not have envisioned Hagel as a 20-goal scorer. Hagel continues to be one of the bright spots in a very bleak season.
While Hagel was a bright spot during this game, Tyler Johnson can be described as the invisible man. Johnson appeared in 7:46 minutes of ice time, registered no shots on goal and was a -1 in the game. Since coming back from surgery, this has been the least amount of ice time for Johnson. The Blackhawks are still on the hook for Johnson’s contract for two more seasons after this one. This will be something to watch in the future.
The Blackhawks’ next game is a road tilt against the Ottawa Senators on Saturday. Puck drop is scheduled for 6 p.m. CST in Canada’s capital.