The Chicago Blackhawks and Boston Bruins kicked off the 2013 Stanley Cup Final with an instant classic. Chicago's 4-3 triple-overtime triumph capped a comeback that snatched Game 1 of what looks to be a very intriguing series.
The 'Hawks fell behind by two goals on two occasions, committed the same penalty twice in overtime and gave the Bruins a wide open net in the third extra frame. Somehow, Chicago held serve at home with a Michal Rozsival shot from the point that made a couple of quick stops.
Rozsival's attempt glanced off of Dave Bolland's stick and Andrew Shaw's knee before settling into the Boston net. The sequence ended the marathon contest and let exhausted audiences across the nation take to bed with visions of the dramatic games yet to come.
Boston will find the morning after to be hard to stomach for several reasons. With less than 15 minutes to play in regulation, the Bruins seemed poised to walk out of the United Center with an impressive victory.
Little did they know that they would have over 60 minutes left to play in the Madhouse on Madison.
First, they dropped the lead. Then, Nathan Horton left the game, not to return. The Bruins put in two games' worth of effort with nothing to show for it, thanks to Shaw.
There really was a lot to take from this stirring Chicago win. Here are some thoughts on the 'Hawks' Game 1 victory:
- Chicago came out hitting and paid for it in the opening period. If Niklas Hjalmarsson had played the puck instead of David Krejci behind the net, Boston's first goal may not have developed. Chicago came out on top of the hits stat by a count of 61-59. I think it showed that it can handle physical play, but I'm not sure it was good that the Blackhawks led in this stat.
- I'm more impressed that Chicago was nearly even at the dot when all was said and done. Boston won 58 draws to the 'Hawks' 56, but it seemed like the Bruins won every faceoff early, so it was nice to see the 'Hawks hold their own in this area.
- Committing two infractions for too many men on the ice made for some dicey moments in overtime. Hopefully, the Blackhawks aren't going to make that a habit.
- Here's another reason the Bruins should be lamenting letting Game 1 get away. Despite losing Horton, it was Boston who seemed the fresher team on the ice in overtime. The 'Hawks looked slow getting to loose pucks and really seemed to be playing tired.
- Boston bogeyman Zdeno Chara was credited with three hits. Shaw, Bryan Bickell and Brandon Bollig each had nine. Shaw may get flattened in Game 2 if he keeps picking on the giant defenseman, but the payback for his moxie proved to be a fortunate bounce off of his knee.
- Andrew Ference had a game-high 10 hits. He also provided the game's biggest assist in regulation when Johnny Oduya knocked in the equalizer off of Ference's skate.
- Bollig, who was playing for the first time since the Wild series, skated a pretty regular shift both in regulation and overtime. Several times during overtime, he and Boston's Shawn Thornton were in position to score and end the contest. In which universe would we have to be in to survive such an event?
- You just have to tip your cap to both goaltenders. However, Corey Crawford was better on this night. All you need to do is look at the scoreboard.
- Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Patrick Sharp and Marian Hossa accounted for one total assist on the night. The 'Hawks won with big performances by their depth players.
Both teams are welcoming the two nights off before Game 2 on Saturday. However, Chicago will probably sleep a bit better knowing that it pulled out a huge win Wednesday.