CHICAGO — The last time the Chicago Blackhawks headed to Boston they were in search of a victory to regain home-ice advantage.
This time, they’re after a much bigger prize.
The Blackhawks took a giant step toward capturing their second Stanley Cup in four seasons Saturday night when they topped the Bruins 3-1 in Game 5 of the finals at the United Center. The victory gave the Blackhawks a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven series with Game 6 Monday night at TD Garden in Boston.
Patrick Kane, drafted No. 1 overall by the Hawks six years ago to the day, had two goals and Dave Bolland added an empty-netter to provide the offense while goaltender Corey Crawford earned the victory. The Hawks improved to 11-2 on home ice during the postseason as they held the Bruins to just a Zdeno Chara score in the third period. Tuukka Rask suffered the loss in goal as the Bruins fell to the brink of elimination.
Both teams appeared to suffer significant injuries in the second period as Bruins center Patrice Bergeron left the United Center in an ambulance for observation at an area hospital and Hawks captain Jonathan Toews did not take a shift in the third period.
The Bruins’ Johnny Boychuk leveled Toews in front of the Hawks net during the second period but he remained on the bench. Earlier in the game, Toews took an elbow to the head from Chara.
History suggests the Hawks are in position to win the title as the 22 teams that have won Game 5 after splitting the first two contests have gone on to hoist the Cup 15 times since the best-of-seven format began in 1939.
The Hawks controlled the pace early and had the better scoring chances, including when Toews sent a shot off the left post from in close. Patrick Sharp had two glorious opportunities but Rask denied him both times. The latter was a sprawling save moving to his right after Sharp fired a one-timer from the left dot off a pass from Michal Handzus.
At the other end, Crawford was up to the task on a Jagr attempt from just outside the crease.
With the clock winding down in the opening period, Kane put the Hawks on the board with his eighth goal of the postseason. Johnny Oduya fired a shot toward the Bruins net that hit and snapped the stick of defenseman Dennis Seidenberg and began bounding toward the left post. Kane gathered it and tucked in a backhander.
Early in the second, Kane struck again when he pounced on a rebound of a Bryan Bickell wraparound attempt and knocked the puck out of midair with a backhander that found the back of the net.
The Bruins broke through when Chara took a pass from David Krejci and stepped into a one-timer from the left dot that whizzed past Crawford as the goalie flailed his glove at the missile.
Both goalies were strong in the third, including when Rask twice stoned Bickell on a two-on-one breaks within a minute of each other and Crawford stopped Jagr on a terrific chance that would have tied it.
Bolland sealed the deal with an empty-net goal with 14 seconds remaining.