BOSTON — In a scarcely populated dressing room after the morning skate Monday, Marcus Kruger was one of the few Blackhawks hanging around to answer questions about the night at hand.
It did not take long for the subject to turn to the penalty kill, because this is really all there is to talk about with Marcus Kruger, given that this is the young center’s area of expertise — and not, really, what it’s like to play for a Stanley Cup when he never has played for a Stanley Cup before.
So Kruger was asked if the Bruins had changed anything to get four power-play scores in the championship round when the Hawks’ kill had allowed just three man-advantage scores in the first three rounds.
“They’ve changed a bit of the power play, but we need to worry about what we’re going to do on the PK,” Kruger said with a shrug. “There’s not much else we can do.”
That unit once again did plenty to keep the entire club relevant in a 3-2 win in Game 6, rescuing the Hawks from their own poor decisions or sloppy play through the first two periods and siphoning off the Bruins’ momentum while they did it.
The penalty kill was a luxury in a Game 5 win at the United Center; not one Hawks player spent one second in the box during that game. Things got a little messier once the scene changed to TD Garden, though.
Through the first two periods, the Hawks were sent to the penalty box four times, a number that coach Joel Quenneville might normally deem excessive for an entire 60-minute total. But they stayed out of the box in the third period.
But the Bruins would come up empty on each of those opportunities. They had their chances, for certain, putting seven shots on goal in that quartet of turns with the man advantage. And the Hawks had to be on their toes at times, if not a little bit fortunate.
There was a wide-open Milan Lucic in the low slot during a first-period power play, whipping a shot toward the Hawks’ net that was deflected out of play en route by Brent Seabrook’s leg. And the Bruins’ David Krejci couldn’t finish a dynamite feed from Brad Marchand during the second of the first-period power plays.
And once again, the penalty killers at least started a scoring opportunity themselves. With Andrew Shaw in the box early in the second period, Jonathan Toews won a neutral-zone faceoff with the Hawks still short-handed for six more seconds. And just seconds after that, Toews was barreling in for his third playoff goal to tie the game 1-1.
It was technically an even-strength score but one that certainly had short-handed origins, another two minutes when the man advantage was not necessarily anything close to an edge for a Hawks opponent.