CHICAGO - Turning shot after shot aside in the fifth-longest game in Stanley Cup Finals history, Corey Crawford kept telling himself one thing.
"…make the next stop and we're going to score the next one," said an exhausted 28-year-old following a 51-save performance, which included 29 stops in the marathon of three overtimes. "Just over and over, that's how I felt and that's how I thought the whole time."
Thirty-eight seconds after his final stop of the evening on Tyler Seguin, Crawford was finally rewarded. At the 52-minute mark of a furious third overtime frame, Andrew Shaw ended Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final, the Blackhawks determined comeback at long last complete.
"Obviously emotions are high," said Shaw of the 4-3 victory, his pesky performance also including a helper and all kinds of agitation, "but too exhausted right now to express it."
The instantly historic winner proved the only innocuous moment from Shaw all evening, but the one that would matter most. It would take a fateful point blast from Michal Rozsival to initiate the effort, a shot that was redirected by Dave Bolland before ricocheting off the leg of the Chicago disturber.
"The bigger the stage, the bigger the challenge, he rises to the occasion," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said of the 2011 fifth round pick. "He knows where the front of the net is. It doesn't have to be pretty. He's a warrior. He's one of those guys you appreciate, you love that he's on your side, he's relentless."
Persistence from the Belleville, Ontario native would reap rewards at points earlier in the Blackhawks push from an early and potentially dooming 3-1 third period deficit. Fewer than two minutes after Patrice Bergeron had re-upped the Bruins lead to two did Shaw pick off the long-range breakout attempt of Torey Krug, dishing to Bolland for Chicago's second goal. Agitating antics opposite Zdeno Chara would also prove meaningful, the Boston captain whistled for a retaliatory high-stick in the third.
"I think you could ask players on other teams and they'll tell you that he's not the type of guy they like to play against," Jonathan Toews declared after the endless action. "But that's what we love about him.
"He's not afraid. You saw him going up against Chara tonight; he's probably the guy on our team that got up against him the most, hit him, stood him up a little bit, drew a penalty and scored a huge goal.
"Big game by this guy," Toews concluded of Shaw, sitting to his right at the victorious post-game podium.
Nearby the Bruins were stung by the defeat of a game that was in their grasp.
"We've got to do a better job of not even letting it come to that," said Milan Lucic of the lost lead, scoring twice and adding an assist alongside David Krejci and Nathan Horton, the top line of the postseason a force yet again. A worrisome sign for the Eastern Conference champs, Horton left the game late in the first frame of extra-time with an undisclosed injury.
He and his teammates had a stream of chances to win it throughout overtime before Shaw did the job - including a pair of power-plays - but were turned aside time and time again by Crawford, who had outdueled Rask by the evening's conclusion.
"We had some great looks, we had some great opportunities, we just didn't bury them," Bruins coach Claude Julien said mournfully.
This chunk of early adversity, he noted, would not rattle his battle-tested club however.
"Last time we won the Cup we lost the first two games to Vancouver," recalled Julien of the 2011 Final, which was gripped by Boston in seven games, "it never stopped us from coming back and this certainly won't."