Good night: A long, crazy game ends with Kruger goal in third OT

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The Blackhawks mob Marcus Kruger after his game-winner in triple overtime.

Twice in the first overtime and once in the second, the Blackhawks survived pucks hitting metal.

In the second OT, officials ruled illegal a headbutt of a goal by the Hawks’ Andrew Shaw, a guy who loses his head almost as much as he keeps it.

There were weird bounces for both the Hawks and the Ducks. There were huge hits, many on Hawks defensemen. There was incredible goaltending on both sides. And there was lactic acid in bulk.

Perhaps this is what you expected from Game 2 of the Western Conference final Tuesday night. If so, you are one demanding hockey consumer. What do you want out of Game 3, a blind man healed at center ice?

The Hawks and Ducks played one of those epic games that, well, seem to be played every other playoff series or so by the team from Chicago.

At 16:12 of the third overtime, Marcus Kruger slipped the puck past Ducks goaltender Frederik Andersen to give the Hawks a 3-2 victory and tie the series at one. It was 1:08 a.m. Wednesday in Chicago.

“I got lucky,’’ said Kruger, who knocked down a Brent Seabrook shot and then knocked it into the net.

After more than 116 minutes of hockey, the Hawks emerged victorious. They also emerged exhausted and beaten up, thanks to a game that refused to go to bed. It was the longest game in Hawks’ history. It was also a game they had to have.

The Hawks’ Corey Crawford was spectacular in net, stopping 60 of 62 shots. With 53 saves, Andersen was just as good, if not better.

This was a crazy, ferocious game. The bigger, stronger Ducks were intent on hitting any Hawk who moved, and they succeeded. Whether the Blackhawks can survive this kind of abuse is a big question, but the only thing that mattered Tuesday night was that they survived. Defenseman Duncan Keith played almost 50 mintues and was still standing.

You have to use a stick to score a goal in the NHL, a pity because Shaw would have had the game-winner and a highlight goal for the ages with a header of a rebound in the second overtime. Sigh.

That’s how this wild game went. Close calls and near misses. Two punchers hardly able to lift their arms.

The series comes to Chicago on Thursday for Game 3. Provided everyone can get out of bed, players and spectators alike.


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