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Cullen: Kane lifts Blackhawks to win; lead series 3-2

Scott Cullen
6/23/2013 12:30:01 AM
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Patrick Kane scored a pair of goal and Corey Crawford stopped 24 of 25 shots, leading the Chicago Blackhawks to a 3-1 win over the Boston Bruins, giving the Blackhawks a 3-2 lead in the Stanley Cup Final.

Kane, who scored two goals in the first 14 games of this playoff season, has now tallied seven goals in the last seven games and registered a game-high six shots on goal.

Bruins captain Zdeno Chara, on for five of six goals against in Game Four, was also on for all three Chicago goals in Game Six; both goals by Kane and the empty-net goal by David Bolland. Chara did score Boston's only goal, with a rocket of a slapshot from the face-off dot over Corey Crawford's glove but Chara connecting on that shot, from that spot, was pretty much a no-doubter.

The Blackhawks didn't shy away from their success going after Chara in Game Four and continued to try and attack him with speed in Game Five. It's not a surefire path to success, but with Bryan Bickell trying to providea a physical presence against the league's most imposing physical specimen, there are more opportunities for Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane.

In some ways, Bickell's attempts to get after Chara remind me of Lightning left winger Ryan Malone in the 2011 playoffs. The Bruins won that series, in seven games, and Malone made sure to get in Chara's face as often as possible throughout. It doesn't guarantee success but, with Chara logging more minutes than any other player in the playoffs, it can pay to make those minutes as hard as possible.

The story of Game Five, however, was that both teams lost premier centres to injury.

Boston's Patrice Bergeron played 6:06 before he left with what appeared to be, although unknown, an upper body injury. Toews didn't take a shift in the third period, finishing the game with a pair of assists, a plus-2 rating and 9-for-12 (75.0%) on faceoffs.

With Bruins faceoff ace Bergeron out, David Krejci went 2-for-13 (15.4%) in the circle.

Carl Soderberg made his playoff debut for the Bruins. The 27-year-old had 60 points in 54 games in the Swedish Elite League this season, before joining the Bruins late in the year, scoring two points in six games. With Bergeron out, Soderberg ended up playing 14:16, which ranked seventh among Boston forwards.

The series returns to Boston for Game Six, but the chances for either team will depend greatly on the presence of Bergeron or Toews, two of the game's best two-way centres. If both are out, then each team has to juggle lines and hope that players lower on the depth chart can fill the void. If one returns, however, that's a decided advantage for the team that gets their player back.

Momentum might appear to be with the Blackhawks at this point, with back-to-back wins, but there have been ebbs and flows throughout this series. Game Six, on Monday will be a new day. More than anything, it may depend on who will be able to show up for it that will make the difference.

Scott Cullen can be reached at Scott.Cullen@bellmedia.ca and followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/tsnscottcullen. For more, check out TSN Fantasy on Facebook.

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