Eventually, even some of the best-conditioned athletes in the world succumb to exhaustion.
Adrenaline plummets to "E."
Sweat-soaked hockey pads and gloves feel like sandbags on shoulders under a Sahara sun.
After playing nearly three full overtimes in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final, the Blackhawks and Bruins followed up by -- what the heck -- playing to a 1-1 draw in regulation time Saturday night at the United Center.
Oh yes, OT again.
And, oh no, the Blackhawks didn't win this time, losing 2-1 on Daniel Paille's winner with 6:12 left in the first overtime. The left winger scored on a giveaway, which the Blackhawks were prone to all night, as they committed an uncharacteristic 13 in regulation and 3 more in overtime.
Boston, in comparison, counted 8 giveaways.
For the Blackhawks, it was their third straight game and fourth in 19 playoff games that required extra time to determine the winner. They won the first three thanks to heroic goals from Brent Seabrook (Game 7 of the Western Conference semifinals against Detroit), Patrick Kane (Game 5 of the conference finals vs. Los Angeles) and Andrew Shaw (Game 1 of the finals against Boston).
Fatigue perhaps explained, in part, the 3 giveaways apiece in regulation by Blackhawks defensemen Duncan Keith and Niklas Hjalmarsson.
Keith had logged a game-high 48 minutes, 40 seconds in Game 1. He led the Blackhawks in ice time again in Game 2, playing 32:09.
"His conditioning level is very high end," coach Joel Quenneville said of his top D-man. "I think he has a different level, an elite status as far as his conditioning. He can sustain big minutes, long shifts and doesn't show the wear and tear over the course, whether it's recovery for another shift or for a long, big-minute game.
"Whether it's in his genes or whatever," Quenneville added, "he's got a nice makeup and doesn't get fatigued in the course of a game."
On Paille's winner, Tyler Seguin won a board battle, keeping the puck in the zone before sending a rink-wide pass to Paille, whose one-timer beat Corey Crawford high to the glove side.
"I don't think (fatigue) was too much of an issue with us," said Patrick Sharp, who scored the Blackhawks' lone goal. "I thought that both teams carried a high pace for the whole game. It was fast. There was a lot of physical play. I think there's enough incentive on the line with the Stanley Cup that both teams aren't going to use that as an excuse at all."