CHICAGO - Five things learned in the Chicago Blackhawks' 4-3 win in triple overtime over the Boston Bruins in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup finals on Wednesday night:
LET'S PLAY TWO! The Bruins and Blackhawks played a jaw-dropping 1 hour, 52 minutes, 14 seconds of hockey, the fifth-longest game in the history of the Stanley Cup finals. And almost half of that was in overtime, when there are no TV timeouts, just an ice scrape midway through each period, and intermissions. "Guys are just glad the game ended," said Andrew Shaw, who took care of that with his double-deflected goal at 12:08 of the third OT. Fans couldn't have asked for a better start to the finals after what has already been a riveting playoffs. The Bruins and Blackhawks combined for seven goals, 117 shots, 120 hits and 114 face-offs. Oh, and the Blackhawks rallied from a two-goal deficit with 13:51 left in regulation.
CRAWFORD IS NO. 1: Corey Crawford always seems to be on thin ice with Chicago fans. He isn't flamboyant like Patrick Roy—few goalies are—and he's one soft goal from fans grumbling that it's time to give Ray Emery a chance. But don't mistake Crawford's laid-back nature for a lack of intensity. He, not the brilliant Tuukka Rask, was the better goalie down the stretch, making 29 of his 51 saves in overtime to keep his teammates in the game. He turned away a breakaway, reduced a Bruins scrum in front of his net to loitering—on a power play, no less—and made David Krejci look mortal for the first time since the post-season began. "Every playoff win he's been big for us and makes huge saves in timely situations," Patrick Sharp said. "I think we can finally stop asking questions about whether he's the No. 1 guy."
POWER OUTAGE: It's hard to quibble with the Blackhawks, since they did win Game 1. But there are peewee teams that have more effective power plays. Chicago had the Bruins short-handed three times, including a 5-on-3 advantage, and got absolutely nothing to show for it. Nada. Zip. Zilch. As if that's not bad enough, they had all of two shots during those three power plays, and neither came when they had a two-man advantage.
HORTON'S STATUS: Boston right winger Nathan Horton never returned after skating off the ice hunched over following a hard hit with 7:20 left in the first overtime. After the game, Bruins coach Claude Julien said it was too soon to say anything about Horton's injury or if he'll be ready for Game 2 on Saturday night. "Our doctors haven't finalized the evaluation properly," he said.
DON'T PLAN THE PARADE JUST YET: Since the NHL introduced the best-of-seven format back in 1939, almost 77 per cent of the teams that won Game 1 of the Stanley Cup finals have gone on to hoist the cup. (The exact numbers, for you stat geeks, are 56 out of 73.) That sounds good for the Blackhawks, right? Not so fast, says Boston coach Claude Julien. Of those 17 teams that defied the odds, one was the Boston Bruins. And not only did the Bruins lose Game 1 in 2011, they lost Game 2, too, before rallying to beat the Vancouver Canucks in seven games. "That didn't stop us," Julien said, "and this won't either."
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