On Monday night in Boston, the Bruins and the Chicago Blackhawks will get together for Game 6 of the Stanley Cup final. That contest will be the 86th of the 2013 Stanley Cup playoffs, and coincidentally, the first in which one team can “86” the other from the postseason and claim the Cup for its won. Whichever team wins Game 5 in Chicago on Saturday night will be the team with “86-ing” ability on Monday.
This is all because the Blackhawks won a whacky and thrilling Game 4 on Wednesday night in Beantown. For the third time in four games in the final, overtime was required to settle Game 4. Chicago’s win wrested home ice advantage from the Bruins and ensured a long series, while also effectively shrinking the set to a best-of-three with the Hawks hosting two of the three if the series goes the full seven.
Despite a subpar performance from goaltender Corey Crawford, the Hawks were able to scrape out a 6-5 win in Game 4, avoiding a 3-1 series deficit in the process. For their part, the Bruins rallied from deficits of 3-1 and 4-2 to force overtime and seemed to be on the verge of taking a 3-1 series lead on numerous occasions.
Here are a few other observations and notes from Game 4 of what has proven to be a terrific series so far:
* Boston’s behemoth blueliner Zdeno Chara was reduced to being a mere mortal in Game 4. Earlier in the playoffs, Chara had gone five straight games – including more than 110 minutes of even-strength ice time – without being on the ice for any goals against. Almost incomprehensibly, Big Z was on the ice for five of the six Chicago goals in Game 3. He finished at minus-3 on the night, his first dash-three since Jan. 31 against the Sabres and his first dash-three in the playoffs since a May 3, 2009 game against the Carolina Hurricanes.
So while Boston did not take advantage of Crawford’s off night, the Hawks were able to make the most of Chara’s rare subpar game.
* Hawks center Michal Handzus played in his 95th career Stanley Cup playoff game on Wednesday, and he scored his first-ever shorthanded goal in the postseason. Handzus has 16 shorthanded goals in 950 career regular season games in the NHL, but his last one came with the Kings on Jan. 2, 2010. Caps fans might remember that one; it came at Washington’s expense and was the game-winner in a 2-1 L.A. triumph at Staples Center.
Handzus converted a terrific feed from Andrew Shaw for Chicago’s first goal of the night while Hawks defenseman Johnny Oduya was in the box for a marginal interference call. Shaw managed to complete the pass around Chara’s coverage, and Handzus managed to score despite the coverage of Patrice Bergeron. Getting a shorthanded goal while Boston’s best two defensive players were back in coverage was likely a good omen for the Hawks, who were without a goal in the previous 129 minutes and 14 seconds.
* Boston winger Jaromir Jagr played in his 200th career Stanley Cup playoff game on Wednesday. He is just the 19th skater and 21st player in league history to achieve that milestone. Jagr has 199 points (78 goals, 121 assists) in his playoff career, ranking fifth all-time behind four former Edmonton Oilers: Wayne Gretzky (382), Mark Messier (295), Jari Kurri (233) and Glenn Anderson (214).
* Chicago captain Jonathan Toews and Hawks winger Patrick Kane scored at least one goal in the same game nine times during the truncated, 48-game 2012-13 regular season. Wednesday marked the first time in 21 postseason games that the duo both found the back of the net in the same game. The Hawks were 8-1 in the nine regular season games in which both players scored.
* Hawks defenseman Brett Seabrook supplied the game-winner on Wednesday, scoring at 9:51 of overtime to help Chicago even the series. You’ll recall that Seabrook scored the game-winner in Game 7 of the Hawks’ second-round series against the Detroit Red Wings. Seabrook becomes the fifth defenseman in NHL history to net two overtime game-winners in the same playoff year. He joins Leo Reise (Detroit, 1950), Chris Chelios (Chicago, 1995), Niclas Wallin (Carolina, 2002) and Scott Niedermayer (Anaheim, 2007) in that distinction.
* The Hawks and Bruins are the first team to play three overtime games in the Cup final since 1993 when Montreal and Los Angeles had three games that required extra hockey. The Canadiens won all three of those games.
* Twenty-seven of the 84 games in the 2013 Stanley Cup playoffs have gone to overtime. That’s one shy of the NHL record of 28, established in 85 postseason games in 1993.
Me, I’m hoping whichever team gets put into “86” position on Saturday recovers to do the same on Monday. That would give us one last grand game on Wednesday. This season, this series and these playoffs deserve an 87th game. It’s one louder, isn’t it?
I’m also more than okay with the rest of the games in the series going into overtime. To paraphrase the great Tom Waits, it would lead to more dramatic nocturnal scenes.
Hey, that’s where we came in, with the whole “86ed” thing. Take it away, Tom:
“Now the touch of your fingers
lingers, burning in my memory
I’ve been 86’d from your scheme
Now I’m in a melodramatic nocturnal scene …”
Tom Waits, “Eggs And Sausage (In a Cadillac With Susan Michelson)” from 1975's Nighthawks At The Diner