CHICAGO—From start to finish it was the night for Andrew Shaw. Quite literally. The smallish Chicago forward brought out all sorts of energy to start the game for the Blackhawks and his leg being in the right place concluded the epic night.
Shaw’s deflection of linemate’s Dave Bolland’s shot provided the winning score as Chicago grabbed the opener of the Stanley Cup Final 4-3 in triple overtime just as the clock was about to strike midnight at the United Center.
The winning play began after forward Bryan Bickell pried free the puck and passed it out to defenseman Michal Rozsival who shot it from the point. The puck hit Bolland’s stick and then caromed off Shaw by Tuukka Rask bringing an end to an incredible night of hockey.
When asked how to describe his goal afterward, Shaw summed it up in one word. “Luck.” But he added, “Bolland got a stick on it and I happened to be going to the net wide there and it went off my leg into the net. Obviously it was an exciting moment and the guys were just glad the game ended.”
The Shaw-Bolland combination had worked in reverse at the 8:00 minute mark of the third period when Chicago was trailing 3-1 and Bolland buried a goal past Rask after taking a pass from his fellow third-line teammate. Shaw has become one of Chicago’s steadiest performers in these playoffs with five goals and four assists in 18 playoff games.
“The Stanley Cup playoffs are something you dream about as a kid,” Shaw said. “When the opportunity is there, you have to seize it.”
His goal capped off what had been a strong performance Wednesday for the right winger who was drafted 139th overall by Chicago in 2011 but has quickly made himself a valuable part of the team.
Shaw made his presence felt from the beginning of the game. Despite giving up almost a foot in height, he was not afraid to mix it up with Zdeno Chara, even leading to a high sticking penalty on the Bruins defenseman in the second period.
“He’s a big boy, he’s strong,” Shaw said. “It’s going to be a good battle in front of the net with him but I think I held my own.”
“He’s a competitor,” noted Chicago coach Joel Quenneville. “He does things game in, game out. The bigger the stage, the bigger the challenge, he rises to the occasion. He knows where the front of net is. It doesn’t have to be pretty. He’s a warrior. He’s one of those guys that you appreciate he’s on your side and he’s relentless.”
On Tuesday, Shaw said he did not want to put himself in the league of Brad Marchand as being an agitator but noted after Wednesday’s game he would take a description of “irritant” as a compliment.
“It is how my game has developed through my career and what has gotten me here,” he said. “I just have to stick to it and compete and work to the best of my abilities.”
Captain Jonathan Toews was quick to point out his teammate does a lot of the dirty work that is required. “He’s not the type of guy you like to play against,” Toews said. “But that is what we love about him. He is not afraid.”
Shaw was not too concerned about his live post game interview where he uttered a vulgarity that not surprisingly spread quickly over social media.
“It was a slip of the tongue,” he joked. “I was exhausted and I could barely breathe and I think I made up a word in there.”
It’s unlikely that too many people in Chicago were upset about it because the word most associated with Shaw on this night was “win.”