CHICAGO — He had already endured a Johnny Boychuk one-timer just 1:20 into the first overtime. The stocky Bruins defenseman teed up a heavy shot from the right point but Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford snared it with his glove.
Then came Bruins enforcer Shawn Thornton, who raced up the middle and tried to beat Crawford through the five hole about four minutes into the extra session. Crawford made the initial save and then denied Thornton the rebound.
The Bruins kept coming — Rich Peverley from the left circle with Tyler Seguin trying to bury the rebound from the doorstep at 7:46. Both were denied.
Through five periods, Crawford and Tuukka Rask looked every bit as determined as his counterpart to match efforts. But Crawford made 29 of his 51 saves after regulation to outlast the Bruins netminder, willing Chicago to a 4-3 triple-overtime thriller over Boston.
“Oh man, so much hockey, it was a good one,’’ said Crawford. “After so many minutes, it’s great to come away with the win. It’s a little exhausting, it was tiring, I’m not going to lie, but I just tried to tell myself to make the next save and we’re going to score on our next shot. That’s pretty much what I was telling myself the whole OT.’’
One of Crawford’s best saves during the first overtime came with 4:24 remaining when Peverley dropped back a pass to Seguin, who was trailing the play. Crawford stopped it with his arm.
As Rask was keeping it out at the other end, Crawford made another stop at 8:08 of the second overtime when Peverley fired a backhander from the left circle that hit the stick of Blackhawks defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson and changed direction but, still, Crawford was able to glove it.
With just over five minutes left in the second OT, Bruins defenseman Torey Krug blasted a shot from long range that the netminder was able to stave off.
The nearest-miss of the second OT was in the final couple of seconds when, with the Bruins on the power play, defenseman Zdeno Chara ripped a shot that rattled off the post and skittered across the crease. Milan Lucic swung over the loose puck. Patrice Bergeron followed up with a shot from the right circle but Crawford made the stop.
Early in the second period, it looked grim for the home team. Lucic had put the Bruins up, 2-0, and although they were well-earned goals, playing from behind is never easy.
But bit by bit, the Blackhawks chipped away. Brandon Saad put his team on the board at 3:08 of the second, and after Bergeron gave Boston back its two-goal lead at 6:09 of the third, Crawford shut the door.
Dave Bolland pulled the Hawks to within a goal at the 8-minute mark and Johnny Oduya brought them all the way back at 12:14.
It was after that Hawks rally that Crawford really shined.
With 3:45 remaining in regulation, Boychuk and Jaromir Jagr each had an enormous opportunity to end the game, but Crawford refused to yield.
Through regulation, Crawford was tested by 25 shots, making 22 saves.
In the first overtime, Crawford turned back all 12 shots he faced. In the second OT, the goaltender was perfect on the 10 Bruins’ bids. In the final extra period, he halted seven attempts.Nancy Marrapese-Burrell can be reached at email@example.com.