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Seabrook has Toews, Hawks at ease headed home

Defenseman provides positive vibes to captain and then clutch goal in overtime

David Haugh

In the Wake of the News

12:55 AM CDT, June 20, 2013

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BOSTON — Struggling through a Stanley Cup Final scoring slump, Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews credited teammate Brent Seabrook for lending an ear to help him through the doldrums.

"He has been trying to help me out, have those positive thoughts," Toews said.

Late Wednesday at TD Garden, Seabrook provided an even bigger hand.

Mr. Overtime did it again. The defenseman who eliminated the Red Wings in Game 7 last month came up with another clutch goal in a Game 4 they treated with Game 7 desperation.

They like to say around here that legendary Red Sox killers Aaron Boone and Bucky Dent have the same middle name in Boston: Bleepin'. Bruins fans might never refer to Seabrook the same way again after he ruined a hockey city's mood with a goal 9 minutes, 51 seconds into overtime that gave the Hawks a 6-5 victory.

"I like shooting in that spot," Seabrook said. "But to be honest, I was just trying to get it past the first guy."

To be honest, the Hawks stunningly put themselves back in command of a Cup series that has seen three overtime games for the first time since 1993. Outside of a giddy Hawks dressing room, a team official dubbed them "The Flying Wallendas of hockey."

It all started with a giant step from Toews.

Every. Waking. Moment. That is how often Toews acknowledged thinking about scoring a goal before Game 4. Consider Toews probably had endured his share of sleepless nights lately — it had been 25 days since his last playoff goal.

"Absolutely, every waking moment it's something you think about," Toews said at the morning skate. "Just got to be hungry. No excuses. I have to find a way. I'll take whatever I can get."

The Hawks took Toews' first goal of the finals as the cue to look like themselves again.

It happened with 13:27 left in the second period, when Toews camped out in front of Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask just as he vowed to do more — and where he was when Seabrook scored too, by the way.

When Michal Rozsival blasted a shot from the top of the circle, Toews was in the right spot and deflected the puck past Rask. Something about seeing Toews score restored the swagger to a team that had lost it. Something about the reconfigured top line of Toews, Patrick Kane and Bryan Bickell, together for the first time this series, provided hope after so many shifts of futility.

"It makes a world of difference for you when you see one finally go in," Toews said.

Only 2:08 later, Kane matched his buddy with a goal that fit the hockey definition of greasy. With 8:41 left in the third, Patrick Sharp became the third Hawks star to score when he gave them a 5-4 lead on a rare power-play goal.

If the Hawks were going to get back in this series, their stars would have be the reason. This was a game that couldn't come down to how well Brandon Saad or Michal Handzus or any other role player performed.

"Huge character win," Duncan Keith said.

It wasn't goalie Corey Crawford's finest hour — or three. The Bruins found success attacking Crawford high on the glove side, but the Hawks persevered. They matched the anticipated intensity for what coach Joel Quenneville called an "all-out desperation game."

"We weren't going to be denied," Toews said.

The Hawks brought that mind-set to the ice, responding with their best start since Game2. Since then, the Cup seemed half-empty in Chicago. The Hawks thought positive again because of the power play, of all things — the Bruins power play. Who would have guessed a man disadvantage would give the Hawks an early edge?

That's what happened 6:48 into the first when Saad picked the puck clean from Bruins center Tyler Seguin and fed Handzus, who beat Rask for the Hawks' first goal in 129 minutes, 14 seconds.

Good vibes from the short-handed goal wouldn't last long. Only eight minutes later, Saad made his second assist of the game — but this time, Saad helped the Bruins score. On a shoddy ice surface that has begun to look like a hockey version of Soldier Field's grass, Saad lost his feet trying to get to the puck. That opened Rich Peverley for a clear shot past Crawford.

That gave us the first tie, letting everybody know they were in for another long, classic night of hockey.

The last time the Hawks won a Cup Final game 6-5 was May 29, 2010, against the Flyers. That series ended with a parade in Chicago.

Thanks to Seabrook, amazingly this one still could.

dhaugh@tribune.com

Twitter @DavidHaugh