CHICAGO – Claude Julien and the Boston Bruins knew all about Andrew Shaw, even if they didn’t necessarily have a game-plan to stop the Chicago Blackhawks forward.
“We know he’s an agitator,” said Julien, the Bruins coach. “We know he’s good at embellishing, too, at times. We know all that stuff. We’ve done our research.”
But no research could have helped the Bruins in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup final Wednesday, when the 21-year-old Shaw scored the game-winning goal in triple overtime off a double deflection. Shaw called it “luck,” as Michal Rozsival’s point shot went off Dave Bolland and Shaw to give the Hawks a 4-3 win.
“An exciting moment,” Shaw said. “I think the guys are just glad the game ended.”
It was exactly midnight local time when Shaw became the unlikely hero. Unlikely because his role is more agitator than scorer and because he spent most of Wednesday night trying to bother six-foot-nine Bruins defenceman Zdeno Chara.
Shaw is generously listed at five foot 10.
“He’s a big boy,” Shaw said of Chara. “He’s strong. A good battle in front of the net with him there. I think I held my own.”
And then some. Shaw drew a high-sticking penalty on Chara in the second period and went toe-to-toe with Boston’s captain, who’s considered one of the most imposing figures in the NHL.
Battling with Chara and again going to the dirty areas of the ice earned Shaw plenty of praise from his teammates and coach Joel Quenneville.
“The bigger the stage, the bigger the challenge, he rises to the occasion,” Quenneville said. “He knows where the front of the net is. Doesn’t have to be pretty. He’s a warrior. He’s one of those guys that you appreciate he’s on your side, and he’s relentless.”
Being relentless wasn’t as valuable as good positioning on the game-winner. Off the leg and in.
“We knew it wasn’t going to be pretty at this point,” he said in a post-game interview on NBC. “It was a great shot. It’s unbelievable, and all the guys, we deserved this.”
As part of that interview, Shaw dropped an F-bomb while caught up in the excitement.
“Slip of the tongue,” he said with a smile. “I couldn’t think at all, actually, could barely breathe.”
Even more than a half-hour later, Shaw said that he was “too exhausted right now to express” his emotions after scoring the biggest goal of his life. It ended the fifth-longest game in Stanley Cup final history and earned him a spot in the history books.
“Scored a huge goal, unbelievable goal, for anybody to score just going to the net,” Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews said. “Doesn’t matter how it goes in, I think everyone on the bench, like Shaw said, we were happy that it was over. Happy that we got the win.”