This is what coaches say, over and over, as overtime stretches into a second overtime stretches into comical exhaustion: just chuck it toward the net, because you never know what can happen.
Of course this one needed a double-deflection to go in. Michal Rozsival flipped it on from the blue line. Dave Bolland got a stick on it, deflecting it back in toward the near post. Tuukka Rask still might've had it—his outstretched glove was on the right x-axis—but the puck bounced one more time, off the leg of Andrew Shaw, and knuckled just under Rask's arm.
The game-winning goal came precisely at the stroke of midnight in Chicago, just as the fans were mustering one more "let's go Hawks" chant. (or maybe it was "let's go home.") But a goal like Shaw's isn't witchery, it's physiology. This was the fifth-longest finals game of all time, 3:05 away from the longest, and fatigue's the reason the top five all ended around the same time.
Watch the replay beginning at 1:12. The puck squirts out of the offensive zone, giving the Bruins a chance to change. Everyone's able to get off except for Rich Peverley, chasing the puck, and Dennis Seidenberg, staying home to cut off a home-run pass. When the Blackhawks bring the puck back up, both are gassed. Peverley never gets near the puck, or even a red jersey. Seidenberg is knocked down in the corner, and takes forever to struggle to his feet. It was a de facto 5-on-3 for long enough to the puck to cycle back to Rozsival, who shot with two different Blackhawks in front of Rask—that doesn't happen in regulation, and maybe not until halfway through a third overtime.
"Something you dream about as a kid," said Shaw, who was right-place-right-time, but generally seems to be right-place-right-time often enough to think it's no fluke. Though I doubt that's how a young Shaw drew it up in his head. It was probably a slapshot from the circle, or a stylish deke past the goalie. Never a painful, plodding marathon on sandbag skates, ending on a bounce off his shin. We assume he'll take it.
But what should we take from this game? Are there any indicators for the rest of the series? Don't forget that Milan Lucic scored twice in the first 21 minutes—these Bruins are still dangerous. Don't forget that Boston blew a two-goal lead with 12 minutes to play, when they turtled/parked the bus/pretended to be the Leafs in Game 7—these Blackhawks can score quickly, and Boston's defense isn't impenetrable. Claude Julien was quick to point out that Boston lost the first two games of the finals in 2011, and went on to win the Cup.
Game 1, on the whole, served to bolster most predictions: these teams are remarkably similar, remarkably even. We're still no better informed about the ultimate course of the series, or even which is the better team. But Chicago now has a one-game head start.