Small Bickell play leads to big Blackhawks win
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Bryan Bickell dreams of someday being Milan Lucic, a dominating power forward that pounds the opposition with brute force and then buries them with game-winning goals in the Stanley Cup Finals.
But on this day, Bickell will have to settle for being a grinder who didn't even get a point on one of the most historic goals in franchise history — though without him the play would never have occurred.
At exactly midnight according the UC clock, Andrew Shaw scored to end a spectacular Game 1 of the Finals at 12:08 of the sixth period Thursday morning, giving the Blackhawks a 4-3 victory and what has to feel like a commanding lead in the series.
Whichever team lost this game was not only going to have no legs for the next few days and not much more than that in Game 2 but would also know it is skating straight uphill the rest of the series.
"Just happy to get the first one under our belt," Bickell said. "This would have been a tough one to lose."
The Hawks' locker room was not what you'd call jubilant. Pleased, yes, but completely spent. Duncan Keith played 48:40 of the 112 minutes, and after politely and patiently answering questions for about five minutes, he said he was done and dragged himself to a shower.
"I can't talk anymore. Sorry guys," Keith said 15 minutes after the game concluded, finally taking off his skates. "I'm done."
The two teams might have still been on the ice at that point had Bickell not raced to the corner near Boston goalie Tuukka Rask for a loose puck. Bickell flattened defenseman Dennis Seidenberg, won the puck battle and sent it out to the point, where Michal Rozsival collected it and quickly threw it at the net.
Dave Bolland tipped it and Shaw changed the direction again as a helpless Rask watched it sail past him for the game-winner.
"There's no pretty plays at that point in the game," Bickell said. "Just fighting for a puck and getting it to someone who can get it to the net. That's all."
Bickell didn't seem to want credit for his tremendous effort at that point, or maybe he was just too tired to be proud.
"Both sides played a great game. Both goalies were tremendous in all the overtimes," Bickell said. "I'm just glad we were able to come back and tie it in the third and force overtime."
The Hawks were down a pair with 12 minutes left in the game against the best defensive team in the game with the hottest goaltender when Shaw made a great defensive play to pick off rookie defenseman Torey Krug.
Shaw hit Dave Bolland with a sweet, cross-ice pass, and Bolland fired it home. Only four minutes later, Johnny Oduya threw a puck at the net, and it banked in off the left skate of Andrew Ference and past Rask for a 3-3 tie.
While the Hawks' big-name, big-money players found precious little space to operate, the third- and fourth-line guys came up huge.
"They've done that for the entire playoffs," Keith said. "There's not much room for our top line and second line to move out there. They're playing the best defensemen every night.
"Our other lines have just done such a great job for us. It's amazing how hard they work."
Both teams can say they worked very hard in Game 1, but the Hawks can wake up feeling good about themselves.
"You just play," Keith said, when asked about his superhuman effort. "You just have to tell yourself you're not tired and that you have to find a way. No one gets to be tired at a time like that."
Bryan Bickell didn't allow himself to be tired, and so he fought for a puck that led to a goal that will almost certainly go down in history as the one that set the Hawks on a path to their second Stanley Cup in four years.
Even Milan Lucic would like to wake up today feeling like that.
•Listen to Barry Rozner from 9 a.m. to noon Sundays on the Score's "Hit and Run" show at WSCR 670-AM, and follow him @BarryRozner on Twitter.
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