CHICAGO — There are heartbreakers. There are crushing defeats. And then there’s the Bruins 4-3 triple overtime loss to the Blackhawks in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup finals.
Chicago prevailed in the fifth longest game in Stanley Cup finals history when Andrew Shaw deflected a shot off his leg that snuck past Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask with 7:52 remaining in overtime No. 3.
Rask made a career-high 59 saves on the night but he could not find a way to stop the puck after a double deflection on a blue line shot by defenseman Michal Rozsival.
“It was a soft shot, so I’m probably going to have it if [Shaw] didn’t hit it, but it gets deflected, it’s tough,” Rask said following the epic contest.
Way back in regulation, the Bruins had the Blackhawks right where they wanted them when Patrice Bergeron fired one past Chicago goalie Corey Crawford, giving Boston a 3-1 lead with just under 14 minutes to play in the game.
Blackhawks center Dave Bolland woke up the crowd of 22,110 strong when he scored with 12 minutes left to bring Chicago to within one. With just under 8 minutes remaining, Johnny Oduya got the Blackhawks even at 3-3 and it would take three more periods before the Chicago comeback was complete.
“Luck,” Shaw said when describing the winning goal. “It was kind of [Bryan] Bickell finishing his check. The puck goes to the point. [Michal] Rozsival gets a nice shot through and Bolland got his stick on it. I just happened to be going to the net wide. It kind of went off my leg into the net.”
Crawford said he knew the game winning goal was on its way if he held his own in net.
“I was just trying to tell myself to make the next save and then we’re going to score on the next shot,” Crawford said regarding the third overtime. “I was just telling myself that the whole [overtime].”
Rask, who gave up four goals Wednesday night after giving up only two the entire Pittsburgh series, was asked if losing the game in three overtimes is worse than losing in regulation.
“Yeah, I’m sure like right after, it [stinks] because you’re tired and you almost played two games,” he said. “But at the end of the day, it’s a loss, and that’s the only thing that matters.” The Game 1 defeat was the second loss in five overtime games for Rask and the Bruins this postseason.
Bruins enforcer Shawn Thornton was quick to defend his goaltender.
“We can’t say enough about him. All year he’s been unbelievable for us and it was no different [Wednesday],” Thornton said. “In the second and in the third periods, it could have been a different game if he wasn’t standing on his head. He’s been amazing for us.”
After the Bruins took a 2-0 lead in the second period behind Milan Lucic’s two goals, Chicago took the game to Boston, pressuring the Bruins throughout the second period before finding the back of the net twice in the third.
“We had our chances to end it,” Lucic said. “[Corey Crawford] made some big saves and we didn’t capitalize on them, and they won the game.
“At the end of the day, you’ve got to turn the page, and focus on Game 2. Shoulda, woulda, coulda is not going to get you anywhere. It’s not going to win us a game in the end. I think we need to focus on Game 2 as fast as we can.”
If the Bruins didn’t have bad luck, they’d have no luck at all in regulation. There were loose pucks in front of Crawford, a shot off the inside of the post, and a big miss on a wide open net by Bruins winger Kaspars Daugavins who was set up nicely by Tyler Seguin.
“I take the blame for it,” Daugavins said. “I should have put it in there and given the team the lead… I had [Crawford] beat, but while I was shooting I got tripped and my hands got tied up.”
Bruins captain Zdeno Chara was not so quick to place blame on Daugavins for the missed opportunity.
“He tried to put the puck in the net,” Chara said. “It didn’t happen, but everybody is trying to score. Of course we’ve got each other’s backs.”
The worst break for Boston came when rookie defenseman Torey Krug had a costly turnover that led to the Bolland goal. Shaw intercepted a Krug pass up the middle and worked the puck over to Bolland whose score brought the Blackhawks to within one goal.
“We had the game,” Rask said. “We’re up 3-1 in the third and then a terrible turnover leads to a second goal and then a tough bounce leads to the tying goal, and we just gave it away,” Rask said. “Especially going to the third overtime, you’re not going to make any fancy backdoor plays. That’s what it came down to. I thought we were forcing the play a little too much [in the third overtime] and they just shot the puck and it found its way in and it went in.”
The Bruins looked sluggish through the first two overtimes, but seemed to have found a second wind in the third OT.
“I thought that in overtime we got better,” 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. 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.”
So now the Black and Gold and Tired will have two full days to rest before Game 2 of the series Saturday night back at the United Center.