CHICAGO | Now the Blackhawks are experts in playing games seemingly without end.
Keeping millions of nervous fans and TV viewers up past their bedtimes while blowing out regularly scheduled late-evening video programming is now a team trademark.
The Hawks staged a stirring comeback that pulled them out of an early hole against the Boston Bruins on Wednesday night in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final.
That merely booked them a three-overtime thriller ending in Andrew Shaw’s game-winning goal in the Hawks’ 4-3 victory for the ages. Shaw’s score originated in a shot by Michal Rozsival. The puck tipped off Dave Bolland and then bounced off Shaw into the space vacated by shocked, and tired, Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask.
Memorable sights abounded like Hawks goalie Crawford making circus saves to almost single-handedly stave off defeat for the Hawks in the first overtime. Or Bruins captain Zdeno Chara’s power-play shot that hit the post as time expired in the second extra period.
Only three days after winning the two-overtime thriller that clinched the Western Conference Finals Saturday, the Hawks became the NHL team to play consecutive multiple overtime games since 2003. The game itself, starting after 7 p.m. and continuing to just after midnight, was the sixth longest in Finals history.
The Hawks had fought back after Bruins first-line winger Milan Lucic scored the game’s first two goals, making a rally all that more difficult against sensational Boston goalie Tuukka Rask.
A Brandon Saad second-period goal and Dave Bolland third-period score were sandwiched around more short-circuited power-play production that still left the Hawks trailing 3-2. Then a surprise goal by Hawks defenseman Johnny Oduya tied it up and forced the second straight long, long night in Hawks annals.
After Patrice Bergeron scored on a power play early in the third to give the Bruins a 3-1 lead, Bolland drew the Hawks to within one with a shot past Rask’s unguarded left side.
Then Oduya tied it at 3-3 at 12:14 of the period. Oduya let loose a long shot that ended up a double-whammy situation for the Bruins’ Andrew Ference. Not only did Ference screen Rask, but Oduya’s shot ricocheted off his skate into the goal.
Rask has similar postseason statistics to Crawford, but his highs have been even higher. He spun two shutouts in the four-game Eastern Conference finals sweep over the Pittsburgh Penguins.
“He’s one of the best goalies in the league,” said Hawks forward Marian Hossa. “He’s quick, he’s poised. He was so strong for them the last series. To be successful against him, we have to what we did against (Jonathan) Quick – get second chances, and make sure we have someone in front of him.”
Saad finally put the Hawks on the board at 2-1 with 3:08 gone in the second as he lifted a shot from the left dot over Rask’s shoulder.