CHICAGO -- With about 12 minutes to play in the third period Wednesday night, it appeared as if the Bruins' amazing run of success in the Stanley Cup playoffs was continuing. They had jumped in front early, held onto the lead, and seemed comfortably in front, 3-1, with the finish line in sight.
And then the Blackhawks served notice that they're not the Penguins. Or the Rangers. Or the Maple Leafs, for that matter.
Chicago got two goals in a span of four shots -- from Dave Bolland at the eight-minute mark, and Johnny Oduya at 12:14 -- to tie the score and send Game 1 into overtime. And then, after the Bruins had dominated the scoring chances in the 2 1/2 extra periods that followed, Andrew Shaw tipped home a shot at 12:08 of the third overtime, giving Chicago a 4-3 victory in the fifth-longest game ever played in the Stanley Cup Finals.
Game 2 will be played Saturday night back here at the United Center.
"It is what it is right now," said a disappointed Milan Lucic, who had given Boston a 2-0 lead with the first two goals of the game. "We had those opportunities [to score in the overtime], and we had a two-goal lead more than those opportunities. We had our chances to end the game and [Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford] made some big saves and we didn't capitalize on them and they won the game."
Coach Claude Julien, however, isn't worried that the loss will be something the B's carry with them for the rest of the series.
"Not really," he said. "Last time we won the Cup, we lost the first two games to Vancouver. It never stopped us from coming back. This certainly won't.
"When you look at the game, it could have gone either way. I thought we had some real great looks in overtime. With a little bit of luck, we could have ended it before they did.
"But that's the name of the game. They got a good break on their tying goal going off one of our skates. That's the way the game goes. Some nights you get the break going your way, some nights you don't. As far as I'm concerned, two good teams tonight that played extremely hard. Unfortunately, there’s a loser and a winner."
For the first 48 minutes, it appeared as if the B's would be the winner and not the loser. They took a 1-0 lead at 13:11 of the first period when David Krejci fought through a Niklas Hjalmarsson hit and created some tic-tac-toe passing with Nathan Horton before Lucic bombed away from the slot for his first goal of the game.
He potted his second just 51 seconds into the second period, making it 2-0 and giving that line 21 goals and 56 points in 17 postseason games during a bountiful run for Boston’s top forward line.
Soon afterwards, though, the Blackhawks began to find their sea legs. Impressive rookie Brandon Saad snapped off a wrist shot to the top corner to halve Boston’s lead at 3:08, and Chicago went on to enjoy a 16-6 advantage in shots on goal in the period. Tuukka Rask, however, was every bit as strong in net as he's been in these playoffs, and he kept it at 2-1 with several magnificent saves.
It appeared he'd be rewarded with a victory when Patrice Bergeron connected for a power-play goal early at 6:09 of the third, making it 3-1. But just as the B's were beginning to entertain visions of a Game 1 victory, Bolland scored off a Torey Krug turnover in his own end, and a Johnny Oduya blasted one from the blue line point that caromed in off Andrew Ference's left skate -- and, suddenly, the game was tied at 3-3.
"Terrible turnover led to one goal, deflected shot led to another," said Rask. "We gave it away. We've got to be better than that."
After being outplayed for most of the second and third periods, the Bruins had the better of the scoring chances over the first two overtimes; Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford held the fort with 22 saves in the first two extra periods. No chance was better than the Zdeno Chara blast from the point that was redirected by Jaromir Jagr off the post with 10 seconds left in the second o.t. with the B's on a power play.
And then Oduya saved the game for the Blackhawks halfway through the third o.t. when he knocked the puck off Kaspars Daugavins stick when Daugavins was ready to backhand a shot into an open net with Crawford out of position.
A local writer described it as Daugavins' "Glen Wesley moment" -- recalling the Bruins' triple-overtime loss to the Oilers in the 1990 Finals when Wesley, with a chance to win it, shot the puck over an open net -- and that proved to be the case about three minutes later, when Shaw ended things.
"You can dwell on it as much as you want," said Lucic, "but at the end of the day you have to turn the page and focus on Game 2."