In almost a microcosm of the emotions through 60 minutes of highs and lows during regulation, the final moments of Thursday's 3-2 overtime win over the Montreal Canadiens provided a full spectrum of feelings on the Blackhawks bench.
"That's up there," interim head coach Derek King said when asked if it was the weirdest finish to a hockey game he's seen. "There's some weird ones, but I'm glad it went our way. I've been in some weird ones where it goes the other way. This was good."
Chicago started the night looking like the hands-down favorites, jumping out to an early 1-0 lead courtesy of Dominik Kubalik while outshooting Montreal 13-3 in the first period with the Canadiens held to zero shots until late in the frame. The second period saw the script flipped, Montreal holding a 17-6 advantage in shots and adding a pair of goals to take a 2-1 lead through 40 minutes.
A Patrick Kane power-play goal got things back on the right foot in the third, taking a 2-2 game past the 60-minute mark. That's when things really got weird.
"I thought we battled," King added. "Kind of dropped our guard there in the second, but we battled in the third and tightened it up didn't give them any chances and we just fought through it."
Overtimes are usually a fast-paced few minutes of hockey ended in a flash by a defining, undeniable moment of elation for one team and defeat for another. But that was far from the case on Thursday night.
Just about midway through the extra period, Kurashev caught the puck at the offensive blue line, walked in on a partial breakaway, was taken down by a back-checking Mike Hoffman and then the duo tumbled into the net, knocking the goal off its moorings. The play underwent not one, but two lengthy reviews.
First the referees were looking to determine if after Kurashev and Hoffman slid into the net, that the puck did cross the goal line in the plane where the net would be before it was totally dislodged. After a few tense minutes in the United Center, the play was ruled a good goal on the ice, but quickly announced that it was again under review for a different element of the rush -- determining whether Kurashev had brought the puck into the zone offside on the play.
"I was 'Yes!' and then 'No..' again," Kurashev explained of his emotions, in wait of what would be his first NHL overtime goal.
After another long review, it was finally determined that both instances of the play were good and the Blackhawks were finally able to celebrate the victory on home ice.
"I was just hoping they were going to count it and thank God they did at the end," Kurashev added. "I'm really happy."
"They called goal and I'm thinking 'OK, we're good,' but nobody was really cheering and Dean Morton was waving and I was thinking 'Oh boy, what's next here,'" King said after the game. "Then they're looking at the offside and I didn't think it was going to go our way, I'll be honest with you… It was a good win. It was a good battle, especially travel, long road trip, coming off some highs and we kind of let our guard down in the second, but we got it back in the third and pushed through."
In his first NHL game, Lukas Reichel didn't look the part of nervous rookie on Thursday night.
"I think that's just my personality," he said with a smile after the game.
"I had so much fun out there," he added. "I think first game, first win, it seems pretty good."
The 2020 first-round pick had three shots on goal and logged 15:55 of ice time in his debut, including 1:19 of power-play time. Playing on a line with his childhood idol Kane didn't seem to phase the 19-year-old forward, who showcased his speed and skill right away to provide an impressive counterbalance to the future Hall of Fame winger.
"I really liked his pace of play," King said. "He can skate and you can see it… He pushes the D back and frees up lots of space for other guys, his linemates. You see him dishing over to Kane, you look at Kane when he gets the puck and there's nobody in his face. I really liked watching him today."
"I thought he did a great job for us," King added. "He's a dynamic player, he's going to get more and more comfortable with his linemates and with this league as he gets going here… Happy for the kid."