|Date of game: 12/11/2014
Recap: Boston vs. Chicago
Boston, MA (SportsNetwork.com) - A two-goal first period and 32 saves from Scott Darling propelled the Chicago Blackhawks to an eighth consecutive win, a 3-2 triumph over the Boston Bruins at TD Garden.
Ben Smith had one of Chicago's early goals and set up the other -- the first of Klas Dahlbeck's NHL career -- while Darling outplayed reigning Vezina Trophy winner Tuukka Rask in the rookie's sixth career start.
Patrick Kane also tallied and Marcus Kruger recorded two assists for the red-hot Blackhawks, who survived a late comeback effort from the Bruins as well as an injury to Jonathan Toews. The Chicago captain did not return after sustaining an upper-body injury near the midway mark of the second period.
"I think he's going to be alright," Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville said afterward.
The Bruins had their captain, Zdeno Chara, back in the lineup after missing 19 straight games with a knee injury, but still fell for the fourth time in their last five outings. Rask managed just 18 saves.
Darling, recalled from the minors last week with Corey Crawford sidelined by an ailing foot, came up with 14 saves during a first period in which the Blackhawks surged ahead with a pair of high-effort goals.
Smith had a hand in both scores, setting up the first by fighting off a check from along the boards and sending a pass to Dahlbeck for a quick shot that got through Rask 9:10 in. He later alertly knocked a puck centered by Daniel Carcillo into an open side to give Chicago a 2-0 lead with 1:17 remaining in the opening frame.
"The effort was there from start to finish, but as you could see in that first period, the execution was poor," said Bruins head coach Claude Julien. "We've got to get better in those areas if we want to start winning some hockey games."
Kane extended the margin with 6:41 left in the second, taking advantage of a failed clearing attempt by the Bruins to blast in a rising shot from the right of the Boston net.
The Bruins were able to enter the third period with some momentum, as Reilly Smith converted an on-target behind-the-net feed from Brad Marchand 1:23 prior to the second intermission to get the home team on the board.
Boston inched closer during a final period in which it dominated the action, getting within one thanks to an excellent individual effort from Milan Lucic. The physical forward bounced off a pair of defenders during a transition rush, then found a trailing Torey Krug for a blast that rifled past Darling with 7:43 left to play.
The Bruins got just two more shots on goal the rest of the way, however, and weren't able to generate a good scoring chance with Rask pulled in the final minutes.
"I was just happy we won," Darling said. "There were some lucky bounces for me. The (defense) was playing great and everyone was fighting hard to keep the puck out of the net."Game Notes
Darling and fellow backstop Antti Raanta have combined to allow just nine
goals over Chicago's past five wins ... The Blackhawks improved to 16-3-0 when
scoring first this season ... Boston had been 7-2-0 in games in which it
scored in the final two minutes of a period ... Bruins forward Simon Gagne
missed the game, taking a leave absence from the team earlier in the week to
attend to his father, who is battling cancer, in Quebec.