Out of the massive scrum came a bunch of expectant stares but no goal. Marian Hossa had pushed the pads of Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask, and the puck followed across the goal line, but upon further review the whistle or intent to whistle pre-empted everything that happened in the milliseconds after.
At the time, the Blackhawks were unleashing a fusillade of offensive chances in Game 2, a blitz of purposeful skating and shots at the end of it, essentially quintupling what the Bruins could muster. The erasure of a two-goal lead stung, but everyone figured there was more to come.
“We were doing the things we needed to do,” Hawks captain Jonathan Toews said. “That’s why we had that chance.”
There wasn’t more to come. At all. And as much as anything, the abundance of chances and the lack of anything to show for them precipitated a 2-1 overtime loss Saturday to the Bruins at the United Center and a Stanley Cup Final tied at one game apiece as the series heads to Boston.
It began in the first minute, actually. Hossa found Toews on the doorstep and the captain was tantalizingly close to a goal. It didn’t punch through. One eventually would, but the Hawks would emerge from the first period with a 19-4 shots advantage with just the one score. They’d still boast a double-digit edge when the Bruins finally broke through.
But that second goal never came, because they didn’t bury the shots and the Bruins when they had the chance.
“We were going to throw everything at the net and we were going to get those opportunities,” center Dave Bolland said. “When they don’t come, you do get that little bit of frustration. But things like that happen.”
They were creating early. Some Toews hustle near center ice led to a Nick Leddy wrister that Rask barely snagged, even before Patrick Sharp got the Hawks on the board in the first period.
Sharp, meanwhile, kept circling the net. He fired a screamer wide as he trailed a play late in the second period, then was stopped as he tried to push a rebound past, then stopped again as Michal Handzus fed him with a blind feed from in front of the crease.
Sharp had yet another chance off the rush early in the second period, finding some loose change just to the side of Rask and attempting to fling home a quick backhand that was snuffed. All of it was good, all of it was momentum-maintaining, but none of it resulted in a score, and that seemed to stifle the Hawks in the second half of the game.
“Maybe we left something out there,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “Had everything right in that first part of the game. Had some good looks, did what we were looking to do. But, hey, it’s a long game. We got to be better than that.”
When opportunities did come in regulation, they came and went.
Recently re-promoted top-line winger Brandon Saad charged in late in the second period to draw a tripping penalty and give the Hawks another man-advantage chance to jump back into the lead. That, along with the other two power-play chances, produced nothing again.
It all came back to that goal that wasn’t, really, emblematic of the Hawks doing everything with nothing to show for it.
“I mean, I thought the whistle was a little quick, but that’s the way it is,” Toews said. “It’s frustrating when those bounces don’t go your way, but it is what it is. You have to go back and try to do the same thing and find a way to score.”