CHICAGO (AP) — Milan Lucic and the Boston Bruins were rolling along and in command.
Then, in a flash, everything changed.
In the end, the Boston Bruins went from two goals up to one game down, and now they'll have to pick themselves up after an epic 4-3 triple-overtime loss to the Chicago Blackhawks in the opener of the Stanley Cup finals.
What choice do they have?
"You have to," Lucic said. "You're in a position now where you have to. When you come on the road and start the series on the road, you obviously want to get that Game 1. When you're not able to accomplish that, you put all your effort into winning Game 2."
It's not the first time the Bruins find themselves trying to peel themselves off the ground.
They were all but knocked out in the first round against Toronto, only to come roaring back.
For that matter, they dropped the first two games to Vancouver in the 2011 finals before rallying to win the championship in seven games. They'll try to avoid falling into a similar hole in this one when the best-of-seven series resumes Saturday at the United Center.
The Bruins might be up 1-0 if not for some key mistakes and bad bounces that spoiled an otherwise solid performance by Tuukka Rask in goal.
He did his part. His teammates didn't, and a wild sequence at the end finished off this thriller.
Michael Rozsival's shot deflected off Dave Bolland and Andrew Shaw before slipping into the net for the winner at 12:08 of the third OT Wednesday night, bringing a wild game to an appropriate finish.
"You're not going to make any fancy backdoor plays," Rask said. "That's where it came down to. I thought, especially in the last overtime, we were forcing the play a little too much and they just shot the puck and it found its way in and it went in."
It was a fitting conclusion to a game that saw the Bruins blow a two-goal lead late in regulation through little fault of Rask's. Had the puck not been deflected, Rask believes he would have stopped it. After all, it wasn't a hard shot by Roszival. He just threw it into traffic.
"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," coach Claude Julien said. "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."
Either way, this game more than lived up to the hype.
In the first championship meeting in 34 years between Original Six franchises, the Bruins were sailing along with a 3-1 lead after Lucic scored twice and Patrice Bergeron added a power-play goal just over six minutes into the third period.