Andrew Shaw scored with 7:52 left in the third overtime to lift the Chicago Blackhawks to a 4-3 victory over the Boston Bruins in the opening game of the Stanley Cup finals on Wednesday.
Shaw was positioned in front of the net when the puck deflected off his right knee and past Boston goalie Tuukka Rask, as Chicago took the opening game of the first ever Stanley Cup finals showdown between the two Original Six franchises.
Michal Rozsival's long shot from the blue line first deflected off the stick of Blackhawks forward Dave Bolland before changing direction a second time when it hit Canadian Shaw, capping the 112-minute marathon contest, the fifth longest game in Stanley Cup finals history.
"We knew it wasn't going to be pretty," said Shaw.
Bolland, Brandon Saad, of the United States, and Sweden's Johnny Oduya also scored for Chicago, who are seeking their second Stanley Cup title in four years.
"It's huge comeback from 3-1 down," Bolland said. "With us we have been down before and we do a great job of coming back. We made a few mistakes but we capitalised on others."
Milan Lucic had two goals and one assist, and Patrice Bergeron had a goal for the Bruins, who were coming off a four game sweep over Sidney Crosby's Pittsburgh Penguins in the league semi-finals.
Game two is Saturday in Chicago.
"You have to battle through things like that," said Hawks defenceman Duncan Keith.
"There is no saying you are tired. It is just finding a way."
Not only is it the first time Chicago and Boston have met in the league championship, but it is the first time they have faced each other in the post-season since 1978.
The Bruins were successful early in the game as they were able to create space in Chicago's end by moving the puck quickly, then blocking shots and killing penalties effectively in their own zone.
Lucic scored the opening two goals of the contest in front of a sold out crowd at the United Center arena to give the Bruins a 2-0 lead. They were the fourth and fifth goals of the postseason for Lucic, who is playing on Boston's top line with David Krejci and Nathan Horton.
Canadian Horton left the game with an injury in the first overtime, and if it turns out to be serious it could be costly for Boston. He is expected to be checked by team doctors on Thursday.
The Blackhawks looked sluggish from the opening faceoff and played poorly in their own end, but then made some adjustments on defence in the third period that helped slow down the Bruins' scorching attack.
Chicago capitalised on a turnover by defenceman Torey Krug that led to Bolland's goal and got a lucky bounce on Oduya's long shot from the point to rally from a two-goal deficit and force the overtime.
Bruins forward Shawn Thornton had two excellent scoring chances in the first overtime, but failed to finish.
Both teams had chances to score in the last few minutes of the second overtime. The Bruins had the best opportunity when a 100 mph slap shot by Slovakian Zdeno Chara deflected off Czech teammate Jaromir Jagr and hit the post with 11 seconds left on the clock.
Lucic, who was looking for the hat trick goal, almost got the rebound into an open net, but the bouncing puck hopped over his stick as the Bruins were on a powerplay.
Bruins forward Shawn Thornton had two excellent scoring chances in the first overtime but failed to finish.
Earlier Czech forward Michael Frolik, who had been one of Chicago's most dangerous attackers all night long, chipped a nine-iron shot over the crossbar.
About a minute later diminutive defenceman Krug collected a rebound, and hammered a slap shot from in close that Chicago goalie Corey Crawford kicked away with his right leg pad.
Crawford faced 54 shots, while Rask was peppered with 63 Chicago shots.
"Everybody was excited thinking they were going to be the guy to score it, except for me," said Crawford.