The Chicago Blackhawks overcame a blown lead, fatigue and a disallowed headed goal to edge the Anaheim Ducks 3-2 in an exhausting triple overtime encounter to tie up their Western Conference Final series on Tuesday.
Swedish center Marcus Kruger tipped in the winner at 16:12 of the third overtime period as the Blackhawks leveled the best-of-seven series at 1-1 in the longest game in franchise history.
The extended showdown surpassed Chicago’s previous longest triple-overtime affair played way back in 1931.
“I think we almost played two games,” Kruger told reporters following his first career overtime goal. “You don’t really think about (the time played). We had guys stepping up big and we stayed with it.”
Kruger’s decisive blow was set up when Brent Seabrook fired a long-range shot in front of the net that hit the center and dropped kindly in front of him after passing through a crowd of players.
Earlier, Andrew Shaw and Marian Hossa netted in a dominant first period as Chicago raced to a 2-0 lead that had evaporated by the end of the second.
Andrew Cogliano and Corey Perry scored for the Ducks, who entered the contest having won nine of their first 10 post-season games.
Still, the Blackhawks thought they had won the game on a bizarre play in the second overtime period when Shaw completed a soccer-style header to nod an airborne puck into the goal, which Chicago celebrated before officials conferred and overturned. Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford made 60 saves on a marathon night that saw Anaheim netminder Frederik Andersen also make 53 stops.
“(Crawford) kept us in that one,” Chicago winger Patrick Sharp added. “They had some good scoring chances. He was our best player tonight.”
Both teams had plenty of opportunities to win the contest, including during a fast-paced third period that saw 17 shots shared between the rivals and the three open overtime sessions.
Game Three is on Chicago on Thursday.