CHICAGO – It's perhaps the cruelest irony of a meaningful missed opportunity: Once the moment is gone, it's with you forever. The regret is instant, and the memory of what slipped from grasp becomes permanent.
So, Kaspars Daugavins figured, if he has to live with the knowledge that he had the last, best opportunity to end the epic Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals on the Bruins behalf midway through the third overtime only to fail to guide the puck into the gaping net, he might as well make sure that the details of whole damned episode were accurate.
"Yeah, I looked up [at the video board],'' said Daugavins in the Bruins locker room no more than 15 minutes after Andrew Shaw scored on a double deflection to give the Blackhawks a 4-3 triple overtime victory.
Then, his unnecessary confirmation: "It was painful to watch.''
Daugavins's folly was losing the puck on the backhand with Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford flailing prone and out of position and the far side of the net wide open and waiting for the winning goal's imminent arrival.
But Daugavins, a late-season refugee from Ottawa who is in the lineup only because of the season-ending injury to Gregory Campbell, could not finish the would-be highlight.
He could have been Petr Klima, whose goal for the Oilers in triple overtime beat the Bruins in the opener of the 1990 Final. Instead, he's going to be familiarized with the saga of Glen Wesley, whether he's aware of it or not.
"I should have shot sooner,'' he lamented.
A few minutes later, at 12:08 of the third overtime of the fifth-longest game in Stanley Cup Final history, Shaw became the hockey hero Daugavins could not.
The winning goal began its journey to the net as a Michael Rozsival slap shot, deflected off Dave Bolland's stick, then appeared to catch Shaw's leg on its way past Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask.
Rask made 59 saves, but he had no chance on the double deflection.
"When you look at the game, it could have gone either way,'' said Bruins coach Claude Julien. "I thought we had some great looks in overtime. With a little bit of luck, could have ended it before they did."
Daugavins had the best opportunity to end it during the trio of overtimes, but it wasn't the only opportunity.Tyler Seguin was denied on multiple occasions, his game picking up after he replaced the injured Nathan Horton on the first line, but the results remaining minimal. Zdeno Chara hit a post. David Krejci missed from close range. Milan Lucic whiffed on a rebound. And on and on it went.
Luck was not on the Bruins' side, and Crawford (51 saves) was on his game. To fit Daugavins or anyone else for goat horns would be to neglect giving the Blackhawks their just due for rallying from a pair of two-goal deficits, including a 3-1 hole with less than 14 minutes remaining in the third period.
Of course, Rask, candid as always but this time with an edge, didn't quite see it that way.
"We had the game," said Rask in the aftermath. "We're up 3-1 in the third and then a terrible turnover leads to a second goal, and then a tough bounce [a deflection off Andrew Ference's skate] leads to the tying goal. We just gave it away."
After six periods, seven goals, 117 shots (63 for Chicago, 54 for Boston), 120 hits (Chicago 61, Boston 59), and 112 minutes and 8 seconds of action, the exhaustion in both locker rooms was apparent.
"We just basically played two hockey games in one night,'' said Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville, who used defenseman Duncan Keith for 48 minutes and 40 seconds, four seconds longer than Bruins ice-time leader Dennis Seidenberg.
But for the Blackhawks, the exhaustion was accompanied by the exhilaration of winning the first game of a series between two extraordinary, evenly matched teams. You thought this was grueling and tense? Get used to it.
For the Bruins, the exhaustion was paired with frustration. But as tough as it was to lose in that manner, this coach and core of players have found their way out of grimmer predicaments.
"Last time we won the Cup, we lost the first two games to Vancouver,'' Julien said. "It never stopped us from coming back. This certainly won't."
About Touching All The Bases
Irreverence and insight from Chad Finn, a Globe/Boston.com sports writer and media columnist. A winner of several national and regional writing awards, he is the founder and sole contributor to the TATB blog, which launched in December 2004. Yes, he realizes how lucky he is.