While the Blackhawks were threatening to blow open Game 2 and send the Stanley Cup final back to Boston with a 2-0 lead, it was Tuukka Rask who was the difference. The Hawks out-shot the Bruins 19-4 but had only a Patrick Sharp goal to show for it.
Claude Julien was quick to thank his goaltender after a 2-1 overtime win that has the Bruins flying back to Boston with the series tied, 1-1. Rask made 59 saves in a losing effort on Wednesday night before turning aside 33 shots on Saturday, including all four under the ultimate pressure of sudden death overtime.
“If you look at our game, I thought the first period, we just weren’t there,” Julien said. “We were on our heels. They had total control of that period. Tuukka kept us in there. I thought the second, we started turning it around. Third, same thing. We got better as the game went on. Overtime, that was the best, had a lot of scoring chances there. Like I told our guys, we got to show up on time for these kind of games. It could have cost us tonight.
Was Julien concerned that eventually the Blackhawks pressure would wear down Rask?
“I think obviously our players responded to that,” Julien said. “I think we gave them four shots in the second, four shots in the third, maybe two or three in the overtime. I haven’t checked that out yet. We at least gave him a little bit of an opportunity to catch his breath again. That first period, like I said, was extremely hard for him. But thankfully our guys rewarded him with that effort by being a lot better in front of him for the rest of the game.
“Again, we got rewarded because I thought from the second period on, we were a good team, a better team, and by the end I thought we had more chances.”
Julien said the simple difference in the second period was his team moving their legs.
“We started playing,” Julien said. of the game’s turnaround. “I mean that in the right way. We were on our heels. We were second to the puck. We were just throwing pucks out of our own end. We weren’t making plays. We were standing still in our own end. A couple of point-blank shots. We were just not ready to play. After the first period, a bit of a chat, we got ourselves going. We got our feet moving at the start, then the rest followed, and eventually it just got better.”
It was Julien who mixed up the lines looking for added energy. It worked as Paille, Chris Kelly and Tyler Seguin brought the energy the Bruins needed to overcome the early sluggishness.
“We didn’t have much going,” Julien said. “At one point I thought that line would give us something. They responded well. Got both goals tonight. It’s a hunch from a coach. I know that Dan is a great skater, can make a lot of things happen. Seguin after the first period was one of the guys that picked up his game. Kelly was one of the guys that was good right from the start. I put those three guys together and they answered.”
Here is the remainder of Claude Julien’s press conference after Game 2:
Q. Can you talk about Kelly? Was it nice to see him rewarded this way? COACH JULIEN: Yeah, because I think he’s been snake bitten for quite a while. When you don’t score, eventually you get scored on, and the minuses keep creeping up. That was certainly something that bothered him. I thought he played well tonight. He’s played well in some games. He hasn’t been able to produce. So tonight is a good night for him, a good time to obviously have a great game. His effort and his will to be a better player was always there. You’re just waiting and hoping for that moment. Tonight was a great night for that to happen.
Q. You got these goals from unlikely sources. Can you speak to the work that Daniel Paille did on the winning goal? COACH JULIEN: You look at last game when they won, their heroes were guys from third, fourth lines. Same thing for us. That’s why you need depth in the playoffs. Top lines are playing head-to-head, top D. It’s not always that easy to score. Dan skated well tonight. His forecheck created turnovers. He also was a lot stronger on the puck as far as battling, coming up with it. That was a great shot from him and obviously a great pass by Tyler. That line, like I said, came up huge for us tonight.
Q. Is it about the battles? COACH JULIEN: That’s what it’s all about. We need to battle. We need to win those battles, come up with the puck, make those plays. That puck ended up in front and Kelly went in there and banged at it.
Q. Chris Kelly, long time without a goal. Could you tell he was pressing all these weeks? COACH JULIEN: No doubt. Just because he doesn’t see himself as a goal-scorer doesn’t mean he has to continue to have a goose egg on his stats. There’s no doubt that that bothered him, but not to the point where it was going to stop him from coming in every game and giving an effort. Sometimes that stuff, whether you like it or not, will weigh on you. When you get a night like that, it certainly takes a lot of weight off your shoulders and creates some positive thinking and some positive energy moving forward. Like I said, he and that line of Seguin and Paille were very good for us. Felt comfortable enough to send them against a second line when I had no choice, and didn’t mind having to leave them out there.
Q. Overtime had a little tilt for the Bruins. What was said in the locker room to bring it on there? COACH JULIEN: Not much more then like I said earlier. I think the first period was a period that we were really disappointed with. From the second period on, we seemed to slowly get better and better. The further the game went, the better we got. That’s just the way it was. Obviously when you come into this building, you like to at least get a split. Our guys were committed enough to work and get it.
Q. They were skating so well, moving the puck so well in the first period. Did you catch up to them or did your physical play bring them back towards you? COACH JULIEN: I don’t know. Like I said earlier, I think we started skating. It kind of at least leveled the play a little bit more. In the first, they were skating and we weren’t. It was totally lopsided. It was a hard period to coach and to watch. I think after that first period, we just decided to get our legs moving, moving the puck forward. I still thought we battled the puck in the second period. We weren’t managing it well. But our legs were moving. Slowly things started going our way.