When the Blackhawks took to the Honda Center ice on May 19, 2015, their mission was to capture Game 2 of in the best-of-seven Conference Finals against the Anaheim Ducks. It almost became a best-of-eight.
Not until 1:07 a.m. Chicago time on May 20, nearly five hours after the National Anthem, was a harbinger of what would be a phenomenal series conclude. Marcus Kruger, the Blackhawks' industrious Swedish army knife, followed a blast by Brent Seabrook to score from in-close at 16:12 of the third overtime to provide the visitors a 3-2 victory.
In squaring the tournament 1-1, the Blackhawks broke the previous franchise record for longest game. The previous mark for a marathon occurred in 1961, when Murray Balfour tallied at 12:12 of the third sudden death to beat the Montreal Canadiens, 2-1, in Game 3 of the Semifinals at the Stadium.
The dynastic Canadiens were hungry for their sixth consecutive Stanley Cup. The Blackhawks were cast as a side dish that wasn't ordered. After that game, Montreal Coach Toe Blake, furious at the officiating, stormed onto the ice and took a swing at Referee Dalton McArthur. Blake got fined $2,000, high finances in those days. That conquest was a lodestar toward the Blackhawks' first Cup since 1938.
In Anaheim, after bowing in a quiet opener, 4-1, the Blackhawks vaulted to a 2-0 lead in Game 2 on power play goals by Andrew Shaw and Marian Hossa by 6:19 of the first period. Who could have imagined that they would skate almost 110 more minutes before scoring again on Ducks goalie Frederik Andersen?
Video: On This Day: The longest game
Shaw thought he won it when, channeling his inner Ronaldo, he headed the puck into the net during a powerplay at 8:47 of the second extra period. He tried to sell it, but the maneuver was properly ruled illegal.
"Shawzie is one of us who play soccer before warmups, so I thought that was pretty cool," said Niklas Hjalmarsson, who played 47:35 as one of four horsemen on defense: Duncan Keith 49:51, Seabrook 47:46, and Johnny Oduya 46:06. They toiled gallantly in front of Corey Crawford, who authored 60 saves.
Crawford was brilliant throughout, especially during the second period as the Ducks outshot the Blackhawks, 17-1, in the final 13 minutes. He was also fortunate as Corey Perry dinged the crossbar in the first overtime, and Sami Vatanen twice hit posts later. At the other end, Andersen stoned the Blackhawks on multiple occasions.
"Can I get a chair?"
That was the only request from an exasperated Andrew Desjardins as he obliged a brief radio interview immediately following the instant classic.
"A great effort, as intense a game as I've ever been part of," praised head coach Joel Quenneville, thankful that his Blackhawks had 10 days to rest after their previous series against the Minnesota Wild. On the long flight back to Chicago, Quenneville watched the Game 2 tape. When the plane landed at dawn, with birds chirping, Coach Q's video review had not ended. The score was still 2-2.