“You want to win those games when you’re on the big stage like that,” Bergeron said. “I know it’s a regular-season game, but still you know the meaning’s different when you’re playing in front of 76,000 people and on national TV. So we know what’s at stake with those games and we want to make the most of it.”
They certainly dressed for the occasion. Bergeron and company wore tailored suits, vests and hats to the game in a nod to their surroundings and “Peaky Blinders,” a TV show about a gang in England right after World War I. Rask also had Notre Dame’s iconic “Play Like A Champion Today” sign painted on the back of his helmet.
“I think these are the experiences that once you are done with the hockey career you can look back and like be happy that you were a part of and kind of cherish those moments,” Rask said.
Bergeron, Sean Kuraly and Brad Marchand also scored as Boston won for the second time in three appearances in the NHL’s annual outdoor game on New Year’s Day. The Bruins went 2 for 5 with the man advantage and killed off each of the Blackhawks’ four power plays.
The game was tied at 2 when Boston (22-14-4) caught a break in the third period — a little luck at the home of the Fighting Irish. Matt Grzelcyk’s big slap shot went off teammate Chris Wagner in front, but Kuraly beat Blackhawks defenseman Gustav Forsling to the rebound and backhanded the puck past Cam Ward at 10:20.
Backed by most of the sellout crowd of 76,126 in perfect conditions for outdoor hockey — the game-time temperature was 35.5 degrees, and a gray, overcast sky took the sun out of the equation — Chicago pushed hard for the tying score in the closing minutes, but came up empty.
Jonathan Toews sent a shot off the post after the Blackhawks pulled Ward for an extra attacker with about 1:30 left. Marchand then added an empty-netter for his 13th of the season.
“We had a little lull there in the third and ended up going down,” Blackhawks coach Jeremy Colliton said. “It’s hard when we were chasing them from then on. Disappointing that we did enough and probably deserved more.”
Chicago (15-21-6) had won five of six, but it remained winless in an NHL-high fourth appearance in the Winter Classic. It also dropped to 1-5 in six outdoor games — also tops in the league.
Brendan Perlini and Dominik Kahun scored for the Blackhawks, and Ward made 32 stops in his first outdoor NHL game.
“Just an unbelievable experience,” Ward said. “I’m really thankful I got the opportunity to do it and you’re just disappointed that you don’t come away with the win.”
Chicago jumped in front when it scored first for the sixth straight game. David Kampf dug the puck out from behind the net and found a wide-open Perlini in the slot 8:30 into the first.
Pastrnak responded with his team-best 24th goal. With Artem Anisimov in the penalty box for tripping, Pastrnak got free in front and slid the puck past Ward at 12:38. He then celebrated by flapping his arms like a bird.
The teams exchanged goals again in the second. Kahun scored his fifth of the season when he redirected Erik Gustafsson’s shot by Rask, but Bergeron broke up a potential short-handed breakaway for Kampf before tying it at 2 when he scored another power-play goal with 1:12 left in the period.
“He never quits, and that’s why he’s Patrice Bergeron,” Cassidy said.
NOTES: It was Perlini’s third goal in his past eight games. He had two goals in 22 games with Arizona before he was traded to Chicago on Nov. 25. … Blackhawks F Patrick Kane lost his seven-game point streak. … Bruins F David Backes served the second of a three-game suspension for an illegal hit to the head. … Marchand returned to the lineup after he missed Saturday’s 3-2 overtime win at Buffalo with an upper-body injury.
Bruins: Open a four-game homestand Thursday night against Calgary.
Blackhawks: Visit the New York Islanders on Thursday night.
Jay Cohen can be reached at https://twitter.com/jcohenap
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