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“That’s playoff hockey,” Bruins center Rich Peverley said. “It’s fun to watch, so we’ll think about this until we get out of here and then shake it off and get ready for Saturday.”

Bolland and Johnny Oduya scored in the third period for Chicago, which never would have made it to the third overtime if not for an impressive performance by goaltender Corey Crawford. Brandon Saad had his first goal of the playoffs.

Crawford gave the Blackhawks a chance by standing his ground when the Bruins had repeated opportunities in the extra sessions.

Shawn Thornton and Daniel Paille skated in for a 2-on-1 in the first OT, and Crawford turned away Thornton on the doorstep. He denied Peverley and Tyler Seguin in rapid succession, and helped Chicago kill off two power plays when it was whistled twice for too many men on the ice.

Nathan Horton hit the post in the first extra session, and Chara’s slap shot deflected off Jaromir Jagr and then the inside of the right post at the very end of the second overtime.

“It’s exhausting,” said Crawford, who had 29 of his 51 saves in the overtimes. “I just try to tell myself to make the next save, and we’re going to score on our next shot.”

The action was so fast and furious that it took a toll on the players with Horton skating off during a power play with an injury — likely a serious one to leave the ice during that pivotal moment.

The Blackhawks trailed 3-1 in the third period before they turned up the pressure on Rask, who stepped up when he faced a similar attack from Pittsburgh in the Eastern Conference finals. This time, he coughed up the lead, hurt by one unlucky carom.

First, Bolland converted a nice pass from Shaw for his first goal of the playoffs. Then Oduya’s long slap shot went off the left skate of Boston defenseman Andrew Ference and into the net for the tying goal with 7:46 remaining in regulation.

Oduya’s shot was going wide and wouldn’t have gone in if it hadn’t hit Ference’s skate.

“We were up two goals and all of a sudden the game was tied,” said Chara, who had more than 45 minutes of ice time. “We’ve got two days to regroup and get ready for the next game.”

The sellout crowd of 22,110 cheered as Krejci and Toews stared each other down for the opening faceoff of the first Stanley Cup finals between Original Six franchises in 34 years.

And it almost didn’t happen.

Game 1 came exactly five months after the official end of a long and bitter lockout. The labor dispute wiped out 510 games, but the sides managed to come together in time to save an abbreviated 48-game season and playoffs.

They were rewarded with a final playoff series between two big-market teams with passionate followings and scores of top players. The Blackhawks returned to the Stanley Cup finals for the first time since they won it all three year ago. Boston won the title the following season, and the same core of players is at the center of this year’s playoff run.

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