On Saturday night, the fans at the United Center were witness to a game that had playoff intensity and the last two champions on the ice. At the end, the Boston Bruins skated off with a 3-2 shootout victory.
But the action was worth every penny.
Tim Thomas may not have received the game's number one star, but he was outstanding all night for Boston. He stole two or three goals from the Hawks in the first two periods, and made 27 saves against 29 shots on the night. In the shootout, he stoned good shots by Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane before pushing Patrick Sharp's effort aside to preserve the victory.
For the Blackhawks, despite playing without Marian Hossa, the game developed an intriguing box score.
After electrifying the lineup on Thursday, Daniel Carcillo appeared to be fairly quiet on Saturday night. Without Hossa on the line with Kane, Carcillo wasn't able to take the attention away from Kane as easily; Boston didn't respect Viktor Stalberg in his first game of the season very much. Still, at the end of the night, Carcillo was credited with eight hits and three takeaways.
The Blackhawks third line of Bryan Bickell, Dave Bolland and Michael Frolik was good again. Bickell scored the game's first goal, and the three combined to register 10 hits in the game (six from Bickell). Bolland skated 20:18, but lost 17 of 29 faceoffs.
Corey Crawford stepped up and went round-for-round with the reigning Vezina winner. While Thomas faced 29 shots, Crawford allowed two goals on 37 Boston shots. The momentum was captured by the Bruins early in the third period, and they held it through the shootout; Crawford faced 14 shots in the third and overtime, stopping 13 of them.
John Scott wasted over six minutes of ice time, some of which was as a forward.
Rostislav Olesz was scratched for Stalberg's return. That, and the use of Marcus Kruger for over a minute on both special teams and in some crucial late-game situations, might indicate that the coaching staff is leaning towards keeping the rookie in Chicago when Hossa is healthy and Ben Smith is ready to return.
The loss of momentum in the third period, and Chicago's continued struggles on the power play, will be something to watch this week as the Hawks go on the road for two games before hosting the Avalanche next Saturday.