Boston Bruins forward David Krejci had a sure game-winner poked away. Chicago Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane had the puck trickle off his stick in front of the crease. Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara had a blast from the blue line glance off teammate Jaromir Jagr and then off the post.
Kaspars Daugavins, Shawn Thornton, Daniel Paille and Michael Frolik.
There were plenty of players — mostly on the Bruins who dominated long stretches of the extra periods — who could have been heroes in one of the most epic (and fifth-longest) games in Stanley Cup Final history. In the end, it was a trio of skaters responsible for the deciding goal in the Blackhawks’ 4-3 victory in triple OT of Game 1 at United Center on Wednesday night.
Andrew Shaw gets credit for it since he was the last player to touch the puck before it slipped past Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask after 112 minutes, eight seconds of hockey. The shot from the point by Michal Rozsival was also deflected by Dave Bolland.
“Yeah, obviously emotions are high,” Shaw said quietly, a common tone among the exhausted players on both sides. “Too exhausted right now to express it. . . . We knew it wasn’t going to be pretty at that point."
Bolland, whose stick struck Rozsival’s shot, initially assumed all the glory was his.
“I thought I had that one,” Bolland said. “It tipped off me. I started screaming and yelling. Then (Shaw) started screaming and yelling, too. I’m just glad it went in the net. Whatever was going to happen was going to be an ugly goal.”
Daugavins, who was inserted into the lineup after Bruins forward Gregory Campbell broke his leg in the conference finals, tried to get cute minutes before Shaw ended the game. Not the smartest thing with the ice butchered after the equivalent of nearly two hockey games and legs that were almost as torn up.
Daugavins tried to dangle his way around Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford while in the crease, instead of taking a more straight forward shot. The result: He lost the puck and ruined arguably the best chance by either team to that point.
Daugavins went to the bench and put his head down, an image that summed up what was a frustrating night for the Bruins.
“My mentality is tomorrow morning to wake up and it’s a brand new day,” said Seguin, who had multiple chances to end the game himself. “We’ve lost many games to start a series and have been down worse. I thought that was a great hockey game. It was fun to be a part of. We’ll move on after tonight.”
It began well enough for the Bruins, if anybody can remember that far back. The Bruins held a 2-0 lead early on a pair of Milan Lucic goals and killed off a two-man advantage that lasted a minute, 17 seconds in the second period.
The Bruins held a 3-1 advantage after Patrice Bergeron scored six minutes into the third period on a power play. The Hawks made it a one-goal game again two minutes later before Johnny Oduya blasted in the equalizer off a Boston player’s skate with less than eight minutes left in regulation.
Once in overtime, goalies and fatigue took over. Mistakes — like the Blackhawks whistled for too many men on the ice in both the first and second overtimes — were also made.
Crawford, however, was especially stellar as he fought off waves of Bruins attacks, aided by the occasional active sticks from players like Bolland and Oduya. Crawford made 29 saves in extra time and 51 overall. Rask had 59 saves overall (the most in the final since Colorado’s Patrick Roy’s 63-save effort in 1996) and 23 of those were in overtime.
“I thought that in overtime we got better,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said. “We got a little stronger. 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.”
Beyond the disappointment and a 1-0 series deficit, the Bruins also have the deal with an injured Nathan Horton, who is part of the team’s most explosive line with Lucic and Krejci. Horton, who reportedly has been dealing with an upper body injury, left late in the first OT and did not return.
Julien had no update on Horton’s status after the game.
Even those who weren’t banged up in a marathon Game 1 will appreciate a two-day break before Saturday’s Game 2.
“Just basically played two hockey games in one night,” Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. “So, get some rest for tomorrow. Get excited about coming in here on Saturday night.”
It’ll be hard to match what ended here precisely at midnight, even if several players had a chance to make this a shorter night.