CHICAGO (AP) - Chicago’s top line has been too much for the Boston Bruins to handle.
Patrick Kane had two more goals in Saturday night’s 3-1 victory over the Bruins in Game 5, bringing the Chicago Blackhawks one victory from their second Stanley Cup title in four years. Since Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville tinkered with his top line before Game 4 to reunite his two best players, Kane and Jonathan Toews, the two have combined for four goals and seven points.
And, most important, two wins.
But the star-studded line _ including Bryan Bickell at left wing _ may not be intact for Game 6 on Monday night in Boston. Toews spent the entire third period on the bench, though Quenneville said he is hopeful Chicago’s captain will be able to play in the potential clincher.
Kane and Toews have spent most of their young careers playing alongside one another, often with dazzling results. They’ve already won one Stanley Cup, and helped the Blackhawks set an NHL record for season-opening points earlier this year.
With the Blackhawks facing Boston and its bruising tandem of Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg in the Stanley Cup finals, however, Quenneville decided to split up his young stars. If Boston was going to shut down both Kane and Toews, it would need someone besides Chara and Seidenberg to do it.
The experiment failed. Pretty miserably.
With no goals from either Kane or Toews in the first three games, the Blackhawks found themselves trailing the Bruins 2-1. Needing a spark, Quenneville put Kane and Toews back together again for Game 4.
Such a simple switch, yet it’s turned the series around.
Toews scored his first goal in almost a month _ May 25, to be exact _ in Game 4, while Kane got his first goal of the series. It was more of the same Saturday, with Kane’s quick reflexes putting Boston on the ropes.
With 2:33 left in the first period, Johnny Oduya’s slapshot hit Seidenberg’s stick and shattered the blade. The puck trickled behind Boston goalie Tuukka Rask and Kane scooped it up and tucked it into the net to give Chicago a 1-0 lead.
Bickell picked up a pass from Toews and took a shot from the left side, along the goal line. He got his own rebound and circled around the net, looking like a shark searching for prey. He finally spotted an opening, but the puck caromed off the side of the net.
Kane pounced on the rebound, and Rask never had a chance.