How many different ways are their to start a playoff series in the NHL? The answer is probably a number too large to comprehend. Still, Stanley Cup playoff series don’t tend to get off to a triple-overtime beginning. The Chicago Blackhawks are all about the show, however.
When the Boston Bruins met the Blackhawks to decide who would win the 2013 Cup, observers noted this matchup was pretty darn even. If someone needed convincing of that, this next game on our countdown of most memorable Blackhawks playoff wins under coach Joel Quenneville likely did the trick.
Note: Check out the previous entries in this series at the end of this post.
No. 5: 2013 Stanley Cup Final, Game 1
Chicago Blackhawks 4, Boston Bruins 3 (3OT)
I had the distinct pleasure, along with fellow Blackhawk Up writer Andrew Facemyer, of attending this game in person. I joked ahead of time that it would probably go into three or more overtimes, as we both had to work fairly early the next day. I still make predictions about games I’m going to just to see if they might come true again.
The place was absolutely rocking that night. Very few Blackhawks games have probably had the United Center louder than it was before, during and after this victory. Of course, it was a little quieter at times during the game, as the Blackhawks didn’t exactly come out and run away to a win.
Things didn’t even get started on a good note for the Blackhawks, as David Krejci took a big hit from Niklas Hjalmarsson behind Corey Crawford to get the play started. Krejci won the puck despite the hit and threw it to Nathan Horton alongside the net. Horton tapped it to Milan Lucic below the circles, giving Crow no chance to stop Lucic’s shot high into the twine. Boston had struck first in the series and quieted the UC crowd about 13 minutes in.
Lot of open net there, and a lot of misplaced Blackhawks. (Screenshot from YouTube)
Things didn’t get much better in the second period’s first minute, when Lucic started a play going into Boston’s offensive zone. He chipped the puck to Krejci and then served as the trailing man with Horton off to the right of both players. Krejci opted to drop the puck back to Lucic, who hammered a one-timer high over Crawford’s shoulder to lift the Bruins to a 2-0 lead. I have to say, the feelings in the UC weren’t exactly positive after that goal.
But we should know never to doubt the Blackhawks. They got to work turning this game from easily forgettable to an instant classic when the forecheck from Marian Hossa and Jonathan Toews produced a goal just a few minutes after Lucic’s second strike. Hossa wound up with the puck down low and flicked it on the backhand to Brandon Saad, who was chilling in the slot and hammered a one-timer through Tuukka Rask. The puck was in and out of the net in a second, and the Blackhawks had cut their deficit in half.
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Never fear, though. The Blackhawks wanted to make sure things were as exciting as possible down the stretch. About six minutes into the third, with Michael Frolik in the penalty box for tripping, Lucic threw the puck off the halfboards to Tyler Seguin above the circles. Seguin passed up a shot to set up a one-timer for Patrice Bergeron, and he absolutely did not miss. Bergeron’s shot sounded as though it went through the post and past Crawford, but it hit the twine and counted for a goal no matter how it got there. And so, the Bruins were ahead by two once more, but the Blackhawks had less than 14 minutes to kill off this lead.
It took them just a little more than six.
About two minutes after Bergeron’s tally, Andrew Shaw intercepted the puck right outside Chicago’s blue line and took it back in, with Bryan Bickell heading to the net and Dave Bolland setting up on the opposite side. Boston seemed ready for a Shaw shot attempt that would create a rebound for Bickell, but Shaw instead sent a perfect pass to Bolland cross-ice that the oft-angry center slammed under a sprawling Rask. I can’t speak for all fans that were on hand that night, but I felt as though it was a near certainty the Blackhawks would at least tie this game before regulation ended following Bolland’s goal.
The focus seems to be on Shaw and Bickell, no? (Screenshot from YouTube)
Sure enough, the Blackhawks had a chance to tie things up a little more than four minutes later. Marcus Kruger made a very smart play entering the offensive zone with the puck to get the scoring play started. Chris Kelly was flying by to cut off Kruger along the boards, but the fourth-line center stopped in his tracks and waited for reinforcements. Frolik was first to come in, and he carried the puck in deeper before sending it back up the boards to Kruger. He then dished it to Johnny Oduya at the blue line, and the defenseman blasted a shot at Rask. The goaltender got a piece of it … but not enough, as the puck slowly trickled over the goal line and Oduya celebrated with several fist pumps.
The United Center was up for grabs, as this game was back to even with about six minutes to play in regulation. Maybe the Blackhawks would finish this off before time expired, we thought. We couldn’t have imagined what would happen next.
Or, more appropriately, what wouldn’t happen. No scoring was done for a long, long time. The Blackhawks committed a pair of hand-wringing too-many-men penalties during the 52:08 of overtime. And Boston came very close to changing the course of this series a few times.
Da Windy City
Late in the first OT, Krejci went off on a 2-on-1 with Lucic, this time with Seguin as the trailer. The Bruins went to their drop-back theory again, as Seguin had beaten Marian Hossa back toward Crawford and got off a shot between the circles. Krejci then collected the rebound in front and tried to backhand it around a flailing Crawford, but Bolland came in to send Krejci to the ice. Hossa then committed quite the sacrifice, as noted by Doc Emrick on the broadcast, as he got in front of a Zdeno Chara shot to prevent another scoring chance. It was ballsy, even if it wasn’t entirely intentional, and it kept the game going. It probably gave the two offseason neighbors something to talk about later as well.
Something that wasn’t in the above highlight video but was scary as hell to watch: Kaspars Daugavins, who has pretty much gone into obscurity since this series, had a sick chance during one of the first two overtimes (can’t remember which) and just missed the net completely from right in front while Crawford was down. It was one of those moments where you needed quite a few deep breaths right afterward to recover.
Boston kept on the pressure in the second OT and had a great chance in the waning moments, as the Blackhawks were killing their second too-many-men penalty of extra time. Chara wound up with the puck at the point and blasted his whopper of a shot off the post to Crawford’s left. It had the goaltender scrambling as the puck was then sent from Lucic behind the net to Bergeron on the opposite site of where Crow was. But Crow got to his skates and flew to the area where Bergeron was about to shoot, standing tall and making a big save.
Bergeron is setting up for a pass on the right side of the screen. Crawford is … in trouble. (Screenshot from YouTube)
Oh, there’s Crow. (Screenshot from YouTube)
What’s interesting is the Blackhawks wound up with 63 shots on goal to the Bruins’ 54. Boston’s chances, in general, were just so wildly close to going in the net so many times, that those are the ones most remembered, even by many Blackhawks fans.
But the goosebumps-inducing moment of the night came a little more than halfway through the third overtime. With the clock reaching midnight, and with me having reached slaphappy level quite some time ago, a seemingly harmless play sent us home as happy humans, per Eddie Olczyk.
Bickell smashed Seidenberg low to Rask’s left as the two, along with Shaw, were battling for the puck. It was eventually freed up toward Michal Rozsival at the blue line as Bolland took position screening Rask between the circles and Shaw skated furiously to the area right in front of Rask.
Rozsival flicked the puck toward the net through heavy traffic. It first got a piece of Bolland’s stick, then went off Shaw’s and past Rask to finally end this game and send the Madhouse on Madison into bedlam. It took a double deflection to decide what would be a very tight Stanley Cup Final series. Sounds about right.
This was one of the most memorable Blackhawks postseason wins that didn’t immediately result in a Cup. It’s one that will be remembered well past when all the guys on the team are no longer playing in Chicago. And, of course, it got the boys one step closer to the ultimate prize. What a game.
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