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A Man I’ll Never Be: Bruins 2, Blackhawks 1

Fleury put on a show but the Blackhawks went cold.

NHL: MAR 15 Bruins at Blackhawks Photo by Melissa Tamez/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Even superhero efforts by Marc André Fleury weren’t enough to prevent the Chicago Blackhawks from falling 2-1 in overtime to the Boston Bruins Thursday night at the United Center.

The first two periods were scoreless, but not without action — at least for Fleury — who made 35 saves in the first 40 minutes of the game.

There aren’t any other highlights of the many reel worthy saves by Fleury, but this sums up how the Bruins must have been feeling when facing him:

Despite Fleury’s impression of a wall, the inevitable happened 4:43 into the third period: the Bruins scored. After a scramble in the crease, Patrice Bergeron lifted the puck over a sprawling Fleury to put the Bruins up 1-0. The Blackhawks defense on this goal was... interesting.

Also, scary moment during the scramble for Taylor Hall as he caught Riley Stillman’s skate blade to the face. Luckily it was just a nick and Hall even celebrated after the goal.

The Blackhawks tied the game 1-1 as Brandon Hagel tipped a long shot from Caleb Jones with 10:24 left.

The Blackhawks managed not to give up a late goal against in the waning minutes of the game like last Thursday against the Bruins, so they headed to overtime for the first time in six games.

Unfortunately, the Bruins continued their dominance in the free hockey period. A two-on-one between Hall and Matt Grzelcyk ended with the latter scoring the game-winning goal 1:40 into overtime for the Bruins to defeat the Blackhawks 2-1.

Notes

  • This was a game that showed just how far apart the Blackhawks are from the best in the league, especially when it comes to meaningfully possessing the puck. The Bruins had 60.87 percent of the shot attempts, 67.86 percent of the shots on goal, 73.91 percent of the scoring chances, and 80.09 percent of the expected goals. Very very bad.
  • That expected goals percentage is the second most lopsided of the season for the Blackhawks — only their 5-1 loss to the Winnipeg Jets back on Nov. 5 that got Jeremy Colliton fired was worse.
  • The call of goaltender interference on Coyle’s goal was likely the wrong call, so the Blackhawks got lucky there for sure. But the Bergeron goal probably should have been challenged for GI too. Mostly this leaves me vexed about how absolutely inconsistent the referees still are when calling the game at this point.
  • Fleury almost had a career night: he finished with 46-saves, just one shy of his career best of 47 in a game against the New Jersey Devils back in 2008. He face a season high of shots: 46 shots in regulation and 48 total, both slightly up from his previous high of 45 and 46 respectfully against the Washington Capitals on Dec. 15, 2021. Fleury hasn’t been quite as otherworldly in some of his most recent games, but tonight was ridiculously good.
  • Derek King said post game that he’d be surprised if Fleury was still with the Blackhawks after the NHL Trade Deadline because he’s the type of guy other teams need.
  • I know with Connor Murphy injured, the Blackhawks are short staffed on defense, but what is the point of playing Erik Gustafsson only 9:36, almost half of which was on the power play? If he cannot be trusted with more time at 5-on-5, then he shouldn’t be played. Ian Mitchell and Wyatt Kalynuk are just sitting in Rockford and could man the second power play unit just as well and be better defensively while doing it.
  • The Bruins definitely had a majority of the chances — 42 scoring chances (19 high danger) to the Blackhawks 18 (four high danger) — but Linus Ullmark did have to be make few impressive saves to keep the Blackhawks off the board. Alex DeBrincat and Kirby Dach were two player with a high danger chance each: DeBrincat’s after a beautiful pass from Patrick Kane along the wall and Dach after a slick move around Charlie McAvoy — one of the best defenders in the league. If either of those shots went in, maybe Blackhawks steal this one.
  • The only Blackhawks to score isn’t surprising as Hagel tends to shine in these make-or-break type of moments: 13 of his 21 goals this season have come when the score is tied or the Blackhawks are trailing by one. Only DeBrincat has more goals (18) in those situations. Hagel also extended his point streak to five games tonight. He has seven points (4G, 3A) in that span and he’s at a 30-goal pace over 82-game sample.
  • Ultimately, while a loss tonight was expected, the way in which the Blackhawks did so was disappointing outside of Fleury’s play. The team just played so much better the last game against the Bruins as a whole, so it’s like every time the Blackhawks take a step forward, they take three steps back this season.

Game Charts

Three stars

  1. Marc Andre Fleury (CHI) — 46 saves on 48 shots
  2. Matt Grzelcyk (BOS) — 1 goal, GWG
  3. Patrice Bergeron (BOS) — 1 goal

What’s next

The Blackhawks have three days off before traveling to St. Paul to face the Minnesota Wild Saturday for a 1:00 p.m start.