Kaspars Daugavins sat dejectedly on Boston’s bench. All the fourth-line left winger could do was bury his head, his identity revealed only by the “16” on his hockey helmet peeking above the dasher board.
Then the mood became even more somber for Daugavins and his teammates.
Dave Bolland swung at Michael Rozsival’s lob from the blue line, and the puck ricocheted off Andrew Shaw’s shinguard past goalie Tuukka Rask. The goal gave the Blackhawks a 4-3 win in triple overtime in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final on Wednesday night at the United Center.
Shaw’s strike, the Blackhawks’ 63rd shot on net, came with 7:52 left. Less than two minutes before that, the 25-year-old Daugavins looked destined to score his first NHL playoff goal.
He was alone in front of the Blackhawks net when he received a perfect pass from Tyler Seguin. Daugavins stickhandled the puck to his backhand, skated right and had goalie Corey Crawford down. With the eyes of tired and emotionally drained fans and players watching, Daugavins needed only to hoist a backhander into an empty cage.
But as he tried, defenseman Johnny Oduya lunged and whacked away at Daugavins’ skates. The puck slid harmlessly wide.
Daugavins’ frustration was clear as he took a seat on the bench and watched the replay on the overhead scoreboard.
“Obviously I was more frustrated that I missed it,” said Daugavins, who played only 15 minutes and 9 seconds. “After I missed it, I thought there might be a call (penalty) because it was pretty obvious there was a stick in my foot. But you have to score those chances. You can’t let those slide by you, especially in triple overtime.”
“It was a great chance,” said Milan Lucic, who scored twice for Boston and nearly completed a hat trick in the closing seconds of the second OT when the puck jumped over his stick in the goal mouth after a Jaromir Jagr deflection. “It is what it is right now. We had more than that opportunity. We had a two-goal lead (3-1 in the third) that we gave up.”
Daugavins was claimed off waivers from Ottawa in late March and was a healthy scratch for 14 straight playoff games. He was skating in just his third game in the playoffs. He and his teammates know there is no time to lament. Players can go quickly from goat to hero at this stage.
“We’re going to need him in the series, and he needs to turn the page,” Lucic said. “We have two days to rest up and do that.”
“It’ll hurt for a little bit,” Daugavins said of the loss. “But you have to get a good night’s sleep, come back, analyze the things you did wrong, get right back at working hard in practice and get ready for Game 2 (Saturday night).”Copyright © 2014 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.