Stanley Cup finals: Blackhawks take opener in triple-OT thriller

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CHICAGO — The Chicago Blackhawks know all about Andrew Shaw’s reputation around the league. They also know the pesky little forward is so much more than just another irritant for opposing players.

The diminutive Shaw sparred with Zdeno Chara, dished out nine hits and was in the right place when his team needed him the most Wednesday night in a thrilling start to the Stanley Cup finals.

Shaw popped back up after he was knocked down and skated to the front of the goal to get a deflection on Dave Bolland’s tip for the winning score in the Blackhawks' 4-3 victory over the Boston Bruins in the fifth-longest game in the history of the NHL’s biggest series.

“We knew it wasn’t going to be pretty at that point,” Shaw said. “You could tell both teams were physically exhausted. We’ve preached it: Go to the net, you’ll find a way to get a greasy goal. We did a heck of a job of it there in the third overtime.”

Shaw was knocked down near the boards but got up as the puck came out to Michal Rozsival, who started the winning sequence with a shot from the right point into traffic. Bolland’s tip then went off Shaw’s right leg and past Tuukka Rask at 12:08 for his fifth goal of the playoffs.

And just like that, the longest finals game in five years was over. Shaw skated off to the side and pumped his arms furiously, then joined his teammates for a weary celebration.

“I mean, I think you could ask players on other teams and they’ll tell you that he’s not the type of guy that they like to play against,” Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews said. “But that’s what we love about him. We love having a guy like that on our team. He’s not afraid.”

Generously listed at 5-foot-10 and 180 pounds, Shaw still decided to shove the 6-9 Chara after play stopped in the first. Bruins coach Claude Julien called Shaw an agitator who is “good at embellishing, too, at times.”

But he also has four assists in the playoffs after he had nine goals and six assists while playing in all 48 games during the regular season.

“The bigger the stage, the bigger the challenge, he rises to the occasion,” Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said.

Milan Lucic had two goals and an assist for the Bruins, who had won five straight and nine of 10. Patrice Bergeron scored a power-play goal and David Krejci finished with two assists.

“Not disappointed in our effort,” Julien said. “There’s certain things you’re going to want to fix for next game. But as far as the game is concerned, it was a hard-fought game.”

Rask made an astounding 59 saves in a finals marathon that surpassed Pittsburgh’s 4-3 win over Detroit on June 2, 2008, when Petr Sykora scored at 9:57 of the third overtime.

Game 2 is Saturday night at the United Center.

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