After beginning the Stanley Cup Finals with a memorable triple-overtime battle, the Boston Bruins and Chicago Blackhawks have a tough act to follow in Saturday's Game 2 at United Center.
The Blackhawks grabbed a 4-3 decision in the opener on Wednesday, but not before erasing a two-goal deficit in the third period against the visiting Bruins. Andrew Shaw ultimately ended the game, scoring with 7:52 to play in the third overtime session to stake Chicago to a 1-0 lead in this best-of- seven series.
The victory improved Chicago's home record in this postseason to 10-1, while the Bruins, who will host Game 3 on Monday, fell to 5-3 as the visiting club.
Boston led 2-0 after a pair of Milan Lucic goals and the Bruins were ahead 3-1 after Patrice Bergeron scored at 6:09 of the third period. However, Dave Bolland scored 1:51 later to cut the deficit to 3-2 and Johnny Oduya evened the score with 7:46 left in regulation.
Both teams had plenty of chances to win it before Shaw's tally ended the epic contest late in the third OT. Michal Rozsival got the puck at the right point and flung it on net. Bolland deflected it in the slot, and the puck then went off the right knee of Shaw to get past Tuukka Rask for the win.
"This is something you dream of as a kid and you have to seize the opportunity when it's there," said Shaw of his winner. "It was luck."
Shaw's winner ended the fifth-longest game in Stanley Cup Finals history. Game 1 of last year's final round between Los Angeles and New Jersey also ended in OT, marking the first time since 1934 and 1935 that consecutive Cup Final openers went to an extra session.
Corey Crawford turned aside 51-of-54 shots in the win for Chicago, while Rask made 59 saves in a losing effort.
"Crowe was great, he kept us in there," said Chicago head coach Joel Quenneville about his goaltender. "He made several all-alone plays and saves. Had some odd-man breaks, some dangerous looks. He was great. Found the puck, challenged. A lot of pucks at the net, a lot of bouncing pucks with traffic, and a big penalty kill as well."
Boston fired just 14 shots on net over the second and third periods on Wednesday, but they outshot the Blackhawks by a 29-24 margin in the overtime sessions.
"I thought that in overtime we got better, we got a little stronger," said Boston head coach Claude Julien. "We had some great looks, some great opportunities, we just didn't bury them. Eventually somebody is going to score a goal as fatigue sets in. Not disappointed in our effort. 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."
Lucic added an assist in the loss to give him a three-point night, while his linemate David Krejci notched a pair of helpers. Meanwhile, the third member of Boston's top line, Nathan Horton, aggravated a shoulder injury early in the first overtime of Game 1 and did not return.
Horton left during the first overtime period after jostling with Chicago defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson in front of the net. The Bruins termed it an upper body injury and coach Claude Julien on Thursday said Horton is day-to- day. He is expected to be a game-time decision on Saturday.
The winger reportedly has been dealing with a left shoulder subluxation since the regular season. Despite the injury, Horton has not missed a game this postseason and is Boston's second-leading scorer in the playoffs with 18 points. He has seven goals and 11 assists in 17 games, placing him behind only Krejci, who is leading all NHLers in goals (9) and points (23).
This series marks the first time Original Six franchises have met in the Stanley Cup Finals since 1979, when Montreal defeated the New York Rangers in five games.
The B's and Hawks also have won Stanley Cup titles recently, with Chicago beating Philadelphia for the championship in 2010 before Boston downed Vancouver in the following year's matchup.