BOSTON -- They are still two wins away from their destination, but the Boston Bruins are gathering steam.
Daniel Paille and Patrice Bergeron scored second-period goals and Tuukka Rask made 28 saves Monday as the hard-charging Bruins blanked the Chicago Blackhawks 2-0 to take a 2-1 lead in the Stanley Cup final.
The Bruins were full value for their second straight win, coming out hard and crashing Chicago to erase memories of a sluggish first period in Game 2. Boston seemed bigger, faster and meaner on this night.
Even anthem singer Rene Rancourt seemed up for it, adding a few more degrees of difficulty to his litany of pre-game fist pumps and facial contortions. The TD Garden crowd of 17,565, Boston's 163rd straight sellout, ate it up.
History has Boston at the front of the NHL championship bus now. Teams winning Game 3 after splitting first two games of the final have gone on to win 21 of 25 times since the best-of-seven format began in 1939.
The Bruins improved to 4-0 in Game 3s this post-season while the Blackhawks fell to 0-4.
Boston isn't celebrating quite yet, however.
"It's nice to get a win," said captain Zdeno Chara, who mixed it up with Bryan Bickell as the clock wound down. "We're up 2-1. We've got to get ready for the next one."
"We've still got a few more games to go," added Tyler Seguin.
Paille, the overtime hero of Game 2, opened the scoring for Boston as the Bruins' reshaped third line of Paille, Chris Kelly and Seguin paid dividends again. The trio accounted for both Boston goals in the Bruins' overtime victory in Game 2.
Bergeron then scored on the power play, with Paille and Kelly drawing the penalties that led to the goal. The Bruins forward was a one-man machine, with six shots in the first two periods alone. He also dominated faceoffs, winning 19 of 22 in the first 40 minutes.
The other Bruins did the little things too. Blocking shots. Winning faceoffs. Shrugging off Blackhawks like annoying little brothers. When the situation called for it, they just dumped the puck somewhere safe and regrouped.
The Bruins outshot Chicago 35-28 as Rask earned his third shutout of the playoffs. It marked just the second time in 2013 that the Blackhawks had been shut out.
"Tonight I thought we made it rather easy on (Rask) as far as traffic and finding and seeing pucks," said Chicago coach Joel Quenneville. "I think we got to be better at going to the net in non-puck areas."
The Blackhawks will get a chance to do just that in Game 4, which goes Wednesday in Boston.
There was drama before the game as Chicago co-scoring leader Marian Hossa was a late scratch, replaced by Ben Smith after being injured in the warmup. That meant shelving a marquee player on a $7.9-million contract for a $550,000 forward who had played once this season.
"Marian Hossa out of the lineup after something apparently happened in warm-ups," tweeted the Hawks.
Quenneville later clarified that the injury had nothing to do with the warmup. Hossa has an upper-body injury, was a game-time decision and is listed day to day.
"We're hopeful he'll be ready for the next game," he said.
Still, it was a take-no-prisoners warmup. Boston coach Claude Julien said Chara suffered a small cut during warmup after losing an edge.
Bruins defenceman Dennis Seidenberg said later the ice was poor as hot, humid weather and a visit by the Rolling Stones last week probably didn't help matters.
Quenneville pointed to faceoffs and the power as the difference-makers. Boston won 40 of 56 faceoffs and Chicago went 0-for-5 with the man-advantage.
The Hawks have not scored a power-play goal in their last 20 chances dating to Game 2 of the Western Conference final. The Bruins, meanwhile, have killed off 27 straight penalties.
Notes: It was Chicago's first visit to TD Garden since March 29, 2010, when the Bruins won 3-0... Tickets for Game 3 ranged from $325 to a corner balcony seat to $7,500 for a 12th-row centre-ice loge seat on StubHub earlier Monday.
-- The Canadian Press