It was Stanley Cup hockey at its finest. It just didn't end up on the Bruins' side.
Milan Lucic, a force all night, scored twice. Patrice Bergeron scored his sixth of the playoffs to give the B's a 3-1 lead in the third. But a turnover and a skate deflection turned it into a tie game.
Tuukka Rask made 59 saves. The B's fired 54 shots. But they couldn't find the back of the net in triple overtime of the NHL's fifth longest game ever in the Stanley Cup Final.
When the game was 7:52 shy from heading into quadruple OT, Chicago's Andrew Shaw deflected their 24th shot of the extra time past Rask to lift them to the 4-3 win.
It was hard-fought, on both sides. There wasn't a single player that didn't 'leave it all out there.'
So, the only thing for the disappointed Bruins to do next?
Move on. And swiftly, like they have many times before.
"I mean you can go over it as much as you want but, at the end of the day, you have to be able to turn the page and focus on Game 2," said Lucic, who put up two goals on four shots, an assist, five takeaways and four hits in 38:14 of ice time (through 46 shifts of pure focus).
"Shoulda, woulda, coulda is not going to get you anywhere so it’s not going to win us the game in the end, and we just need to focus on Game 2 as best as we can."
Though conditioning of NHL players is second to none, the room of Bruins in the visiting team locker room following the game looked visibly exhausted. The OT win (as we've seen four previous times from the Bruins this postseason) usually helps cancel out some of the exhaustion.
Despite the tough loss, they were also all still visibly motivated, and not downtrodden.
"Wake up tomorrow morning and it's another day," said Tyler Seguin, who put up eight shots, and assisted on Bergeron's power-play tally, in 29:18 of ice time. When Nathan Horton left the game during the first overtime and did not return (there was no update following the game), Seguin skated with Lucic and David Krejci.
"It was a very long, tough game for both teams. Just have to bounce back and regroup tomorrow."
Bruins' Head Coach Claude Julien - likely extremely exhausted as well from the hard-fought battle - was quick to voice no panic.
It's one game. Still four wins for the Bruins to go.
"Last time we won the Cup, we lost the first two games to Vancouver. It never stopped us from coming back. This certainly won't."
"When you look at the game, it could have gone either way. I thought we had some real great looks in overtime. With a little bit of luck, we could have ended it before they did. But that's the name of the game. They got a good break on their tying goal going off one of our skates."
"That's the way the game goes. Some nights you get the break going your way, some nights you don't. As far as I'm concerned, two good teams tonight that played extremely hard."
The Bruins and Blackhawks hadn't played each other since October 15, 2011, but the two balanced teams certainly didn't show any "feeling out" from the drop of the puck.
"Honestly, for two teams that haven't played in a year and a half, it almost seemed like we have played each other recently," said Lucic. "They played all as a team. They used everybody and they've had guys step up all playoffs, so both teams are going to look at tape and make adjustments."
The B's had a slight shot edge in the three overtimes, firing 29 on Corey Crawford, to the Hawks' 24. But, as is always the case, the only one that counts is the one that goes in.
"We had some great looks, some great opportunities, we just didn't bury them," said Julien. "Eventually somebody is going to score a goal as fatigue sets in. Not disappointed in our effort. There's certain things you're going to want to fix for next game. But as far as the game is concerned, it was a hard-fought game."
"It just looked like it wasn't our night," said Rask, who faced the most shots (63) of his career. "That power play deflection [from Zdeno Chara] hits the inside post, can't get it in. There was a lot of loose pucks in front of the net and we couldn't pounce on those, [Kaspars] Daugavins has that empty net. It just wasn't our night."
There were too many close calls in overtime to count. None closer than Daugavins picking up a feed from Seguin and nearly backhanding it into an open net with Crawford sliding right to left. The B's forward was falling and couldn't settle the puck enough to slide it through.
He hung his head on the bench after seeing the replay.
"It was painful to watch," the forward said in the locker room postgame.
The challenge for the players following any loss, let alone one in triple overtime with numerous scoring chances, is to not let them replay over and over in their minds for too long.
Even so, will it be tough to put this behind them?
"Noo, I don't think so," said Rask. "It sucks right now, obviously, because it just ended. Tomorrow's going to be a new day. We'll regroup Friday on the ice, I bet. It's behind us."
"Well, we are going to come back here and watch video, and be ready to play Game 2. We’re going to have to win a game here," added Daugavins.
And No. 16 was not alone in the missed chances.
"He's a great guy too and you hope that one goes in for him and he can step up and score a big goal there. And it wasn’t just that one, there was plenty of chances we had in overtime, and also, we had a two goal lead so we've got to do a better job of not even letting it come to that," said Lucic. "He’s going to be a good player for us in this series, and he needs to turn the page on that."
All the Game One loss does is set the Bruins up for a bounce-back performance in Game Two, something they're pretty accustomed to.
"It's one game, it's going to be a long series," said Seguin. "I think everyone in here had a blast out there. Looking forward to Game Two and ready to move on after tonight."
Despite not having played the Bruins until Wednesday night, even Blackhawks Head Coach Joel Quenneville knows this team's character and ability to put up a fight.
"I think we haven't seen that team all year, but judging by the way the game went, we're going to have to be ready," he said.
It's shown in their play this postseason and throughout the past few years, and in their mindset following losses. This group is confident they can bounce back in Game Two on Saturday night in Chicago.
"You are in a position now where you have to, and when you come on the road and start a series on the road, obviously, you want to get that Game 1," said Lucic.
"When you're not able to accomplish that, you put all your effort into winning Game 2."