CHICAGO Andrew Shaw's goal in triple overtime sealed a marathon 4-3 victory for the Chicago Blackhawks over the Boston Bruins as the Stanley Cup Finals opened with a Game One thriller on Wednesday.
The game was the first between the two Original Six franchises in a Stanley Cup Final and the teams dished up more than four hours of high drama before Shaw scored on a double-deflection off Michal Rozsival's blast from the blueline.
"He (Shaw) is a competitor," Chicago coach Joel Quenneville to reporters. "The bigger the stage, the bigger the challenge, he rises to the occasion.
"He knows where the front of net is. 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."
While the game could be considered a classic, Shaw's winner did not fall into the same category.
Rozsival took control at the blueline, moved towards the center of the ice and fired a shot into a crowd in front of Tuukka Rask, the puck first richocetting off Dave Bolland then glancing off Shaw past the stranded Boston netminder.
"Luck," said Shaw, describing his goal. "The puck goes to the point. Rozsival gets a nice shot through. Bolland got his stick on it.
"I just happened to be going to the net wide. Kind of went off my leg into the net.
"An exciting moment. I think guys are just glad the game ended."
Fans, however, could not get enough, many left breathless when the fifth longest game in Stanley Cup Finals history finally came to an end.
With thundering checks echoing through the 'Madhouse on Madison' and lightning crackling outside the arena, Game One was played at a frantic pace right from the opening faceoff.
The Bruins led 2-0 on a pair of Milan Lucic goals before Blackhawks rookie Brandon Saad brought the arena to life by whipping a shot into the top corner to end Rask's shutout streak at 149 minutes and 36 seconds.
Boston, however, restored their two-goal cushion on a Patrice Bergeron powerplay tally six minutes into the third period.
Trailing 3-1, the Blackhawks staged a third period rally when Dave Bolland cut the Boston advantage in half before Johnny Oduya's blast deflected off the skate of Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference past Rask to send the contest to overtime.
With Game Two of the best-of-seven series set for Saturday at the United Center, both teams will have little time to catch their breath and recover from an opening night marathon.
"We got a couple of days in between here, we just basically played two hockey games in one night," Quenneville said. "So get some rest for tomorrow. Get excited about coming in here on Saturday night.
"We haven't seen that team all year but judging by the way the game went, we're going to have to be ready."
(Writing by Steve Keating in Toronto; Editing by John O'Brien)