"I've been involved in a lot of games," said Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville, "and that might have been the greatest overtime I've ever seen." Easy enough for him to say; his team won.
Quenneville was talking about the first overtime period in Chicago's 2OT victory to stay alive, won on a nifty backhand from Michal Handzus. The 37-year-old hasn't seemed to have much left in the tank this year, but maybe it's fitting the game ended so unexpectedly and anticlimactically after 20 minutes of the most entertaining hockey in recent memory.
End-to-end, chance after chance, the Kings and Blackhaws trading haymakers, one with the desperation of survival, the other seeking to end this now; It's tough to put into words just how great the first overtime was. The numbers decently convey the pitch of the period, if not quite the intensity: The 20 minutes of game time took just 26 real-time minutes to complete. At one point, play went 7:56 without a stoppage.
"Probably the highest pace we've seen all year," said Corey Crawford. "Overtime was crazy...Probably the loudest it's been all year."
Crawford and Jonathan Quick traded saves on scrambles and odd-man rushes, any of which could have respectably ended things. "I was able to go end-to-end about 10 times," said Drew Doughty, who logged 39:04 of ice time.
"We were into it," Kings winger Justin Williams said. "Everyone's into it. We weren't even sitting down on the bench, most of us."
It was ideal hockey, if you were watching without a horse in the race. If you did have a rooting interest, it was torture, in that way that only playoff overtime can provide uncomfortably large adrenaline surges and buttclenchingly frantic scoring chances. Any Blackhawks or Kings fan who says they enjoyed that action while it was still going on is a dirty liar—there's nothing enjoyable about playoff overtime.
In retrospect, though? Yeah, it was a classic. "That was a fun hockey game to play in," Crawford said. "Even more fun to win."