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Nothing like Game 6: Flat Blackhawks fall to Bruins 3-0

Updated: March 27, 2014 10:52PM



BOSTON — Niklas Hjalmarsson couldn’t help but smile when he walked back into the visitors’ dressing room at TD Garden for the first time since he and his Blackhawks teammates trashed the place last June, coating the cramped quarters in champagne while passing around the Stanley Cup for sips.

“It’s a good feeling,” Hjalmarsson said Thursday morning. “You can almost feel the stickiness in the floor, still.”

It was a lot less joyous, if a lot less significant, later in the evening as the Hawks fell to the Bruins 3-0 in a lackluster effort against the league’s hottest — and possibly best — team.

Patrice Bergeron scored twice, the second goal coming 13 seconds after Carl Soderberg scored early in the third period. The 13 seconds didn’t quite make up for the “17 Seconds” now etched in Hawks lore — as David Krejci said before the game, “If we win tonight, we’re not going to get the Cup back” — but it was an emphatic way to close out their 13th win in 14 games (13-0-1).

The Bruins are the talk of the league these days. But Corey Crawford, who was very good (28 saves) aside from a third-period turnover that led to Bergeron’s second goal, wasn’t in the mood to compare them to last year’s squad.

“To be honest, I don’t really care about their team,” he said. “It has nothing to do with us.”

Indeed, the Hawks have plenty to worry about in their own division, as the Blues pull away and the Avalanche keeps pace. And the loss meant the Hawks will have to wait until Friday in Ottawa to try to clinch a playoff berth.

“Everyone seems to be tightening up, tuning up their teams and lineups, and playing good hockey down the stretch,” Patrick Sharp said. “I think we need to put this one behind us and get ready to play a game tomorrow.”

This game lacked the buzz of the teams’ first meeting on Jan. 19 at the United Center. In the ramp-up to that game, there was plenty of talk about the unforgettable way Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final ended last season — Bryan Bickell and Dave Bolland scoring 17 seconds apart in the final 1:16 of the game to turn a loss into a championship. In Boston, the only mentions of Game  6 came from the media, poking and prodding for a hint of resentment or animosity.

There was none to be found between these teams. Boston-Chicago 2013 was a far cry from Boston-Vancouver 2011 in the hate department.

“I’m one of those guys that believes they played the game the right way,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said. “There’s no embellishment, no crap, none of that stuff. It’s just hard-fought hockey from both sides.”

There wasn’t enough of that from the Hawks this time. Their spirited start gave way to a sloppy second, after which they were fortunate to still be down only 1-0. Then things unraveled in the third period, as Soderberg smacked home a Chris Kelly rebound before Bergeron made it 3-0 a moment later.

“It was a perfect start, then it slowed down to a crawl,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “I thought we were easy to play against and didn’t really press enough. We had some chances later in the third, but we were not very good tonight.”

Tuukka Rask made 28 saves for the shutout. It was the second time the Hawks were shut out in five days, as they continue to try to find their way without the injured Patrick Kane.

“You miss Kaner, you’re trying some things and we’re seeing what it can look like,” Quenneville said. “Boston’s as stingy as there is, anyway. Another game [Friday] night, let’s get right back at it.”

Email: mlazerus@suntimes.com

Twitter: @marklazerus



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