Blackhawks outlast Bruins in 3 OT
CHICAGO — Andrew Shaw skated off to the side and pumped his arms furiously.
One shot from the right point plus two deflections was just enough to beat Tuukka Rask in the fifth-longest Stanley Cup finals game in history.
Shaw skated in front of the goal in the third overtime and redirected Dave Bolland’s shot into the net for the winning score in the Chicago Blackhawks’ 4-3 victory over the Boston Bruins in a riveting Game 1 on Wednesday night.
Michal Rozsival started the winning sequence with a shot from the right point into traffic. Bolland tipped it before Shaw got it by Rask for his fifth goal of the playoffs.
And just like that, the longest finals game in five years was over.
“We knew it wasn’t going to be pretty,” Shaw said. “It was a great shot, great shift. It was unbelievable. All the guys deserved this. It was a great battle for us.”
Milan Lucic had two goals and an assist for the Bruins, who had won five straight and nine of 10. Patrice Bergeron scored a power-play goal and David Krejci finished with two assists.
Rask made an astounding 59 saves in the longest finals game since Pittsburgh beat Detroit 4-3 when Petr Sykora scored at 9:57 of third overtime on June 2, 2008.
Game 2 is Saturday night at the United Center.
“Get some rest, because we basically just played two games in one night here,” Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. “But based on how it went tonight, we’ll have to be ready.”
The Blackhawks won for the eighth time in nine games and improved to 10-1 at home in the playoffs. Bolland and Johnny Oduya scored in the third period for Chicago, which never would have made it to the third overtime if not for an impressive performance by goaltender Corey Crawford. Brandon Saad had his first goal of the playoffs.
Crawford gave the Blackhawks a chance by standing his ground when the Bruins had repeated opportunities in the extra sessions.
Shawn Thornton and Daniel Paille skated in for a 2-on-1 in the first OT, and Crawford turned away Thornton on the doorstep. He denied Rich Peverley and Tyler Seguin in rapid succession, and helped Chicago kill off two power plays when it was whistled twice for too many men on the ice.
Nathan Horton hit the post in the first extra session, and Zdeno Chara’s slap shot deflected off Jaromir Jagr and then the inside of the right post at the very end of the second overtime.
Crawford had 22 of his 51 saves in the first two overtimes, and Rask was forced to make 18 stops. The action was so fast and furious that it took a toll on the players with Horton skating off during the power play with an injury — likely a serious one to leave the ice during that pivotal moment.
Bergeron scored on a slap shot that went off the stick of Blackhawks defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson and made it 3-1 at 6:09 in the third period. It was just the fourth power-play goal allowed by Chicago in 59 playoff chances.
The Blackhawks responded with more pressure on Rask, who stepped up when he faced a similar attack from Pittsburgh in the Eastern Conference finals. This time, he coughed up the lead, hurt by one unlucky carom.
First, Bolland converted a nice pass from Shaw for his first goal of the playoffs. The pesky Bolland had three goals and three assists when the Blackhawks beat Philadelphia in six games to win the 2010 Stanley Cup.
Then Oduya’s long slap shot went off the left skate of Boston defenseman Andrew Ference and into the net for the tying goal with 7:46 remaining in regulation. Oduya’s shot was going wide if it didn’t hit Ference’s skate.
“Not disappointed in our effort,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said. “There’s certain things you’re going to want to fix for next game. But as far as the game is concerned, it was a hard-fought game.”
The sellout crowd of 22,110 cheered as Krejci and Chicago captain Jonathan Toews stared each other down for the opening faceoff of the first Stanley Cup finals between Original Six franchises in 34 years.
And it almost didn’t happen.
Game 1 came exactly five months after the official end of a long and bitter lockout. The labor dispute wiped out 510 games, but the sides managed to come together in time to save an abbreviated 48-game season and playoffs.
They were rewarded with a final playoff series between two big-market teams with passionate followings and scores of top players. Led by Toews and a group of skilled forwards, the Blackhawks returned to the Stanley Cup finals for the first time since they won it all three years ago. Boston won the title the following season, and the same core of players is at the center of this year’s playoff run.
It was enough to attract the attention of President Barack Obama, who has a home in Chicago and made it clear who he was pulling for before the opener. He wished the Blackhawks good luck over Twitter before adding: “hope to welcome you back to the White House again as #StanleyCup champs.”
Boston countered with a Rolling Stone: Mick Jagger tweeted a picture of himself holding a Bruins jersey before a show at TD Garden.
Chicago landed a few big hits early on, but the Blackhawks chased the Bruins around for much of the first period. So much for all that talk about Chicago’s speed and skill versus Boston’s strength and power.
A missed check by Hjalmarsson proved costly when Krejci threw the puck in front of the net to Horton, who passed to a wide-open Lucic for the first goal of the series at 13:11 in the first.
Lucic set up his second goal with a little dirty work. He won the puck in a scrum along the boards, got a pass from Krejci and fired it into the right side just 51 seconds into the second period, extending Boston’s lead to 2-0 with his fifth goal of the playoffs.
The two-goal lead looked like a sure bet with Rask in net, but the Blackhawks found a way to get back into the game against the red-hot goaltender. Marian Hossa stole the puck from Dennis Seidenberg in the Boston end and fed Saad, who one-timed it past Rask at 3:08 in the second.
Saad’s goal ended a scoreless streak of 149 minutes and 36 seconds for Rask dating to Game 3 of the sweep against the Penguins.
That got the crowd going again, and the Blackhawks drew a pair of penalties in rapid succession to earn a 5-on-3 power play for 1:17. With the prime opportunity to move into a tie, they passed the puck around too much, and the Bruins easily killed off both penalties.
Notes: It was the first game between the teams since Boston’s 3-2 shootout victory on Oct. 15, 2011. There were no games against teams from the other conference during the lockout-shortened season.