CHICAGO -- You wouldn't be wrong to think Chicago Blackhawks forwards Andrew Shaw and Dave Bolland have similar on-ice demeanors. Bolland made his name agitating opponents in the playoffs, and now Shaw is doing the same.
But both have some skill as well.
The two combined for a double deflection of a Michal Rozsival shot to end a triple-overtime thriller, winning 4-3 over the Boston Bruins in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup finals Wednesday. It was the second of two goals for the two linemates, and it was well into Thursday before Shaw spoke of them.
"Emotions are high but too exhausted right now to express it," Shaw said after the marathon game.
Bolland tipped the Rozsival shot first, then it hit Shaw in the leg, and then bedlam ensued at the United Center. Put on the same line for the first time in the playoffs, the duo thrived in the offensive zone while agitating massive defenseman Zdeno Chara. That's what Shaw does best, and he learned it from one of the best in Bolland.
"Shawsy, he plays that rat game," Bolland said. "It's good to be on the line with him. He's got that young energy full of piss and vinegar. I think we did a good job tonight."
"Rat" is Bolland's nickname, and he earned it by being a pest in past postseasons and agitating the other team. It's how he made his name in the league. Now Shaw has that role. He was credited with nine hits while goading Chara into a high-sticking penalty.
"He's a big boy," Shaw said of Chara. "He's strong. It's going to be a great battle, but I think I held my own."
He seemed to annoy the Bruins' coach as well.
"We know he's an agitator," Claude Julien said. "We know he's good at embellishing too at times. We know all that stuff. We've done our research."
What the Bruins might not know is that Shaw has some skill, as does Bolland. When you get a reputation as an agitator, sometimes your hockey abilities get overlooked. The double deflection was good -- Shaw called it "luck" -- but the duo's first goal was even more impressive.
Midway through the third period with the Hawks trailing 3-1, Shaw held the puck entering the offensive zone just long enough for Bolland to get into position down the slot. The pass was perfect, and the shot past Tuukka Rask was just as nice.
"We could have been offsides, but with the patience off Shawsy and myself getting onsides and catching [the pass], it was a great play," Bolland said.
Shaw might get more headlines after Game 1, but Bolland was just as effective. Banished to the fourth line for most of the playoffs, the Rat has come alive lately. Not only did he score and tally an assist, his backchecking was key. Several times he saved goals with last-minute stick work.
He agreed Wednesday was his best game of the postseason.
"Things weren't going that well. I just battled through," Bolland said. "I'm getting back to my old game."
Shaw is the new kid on the block while Bolland is the wily veteran. Both haven't played at their best, at the same time, much this season. But the Stanley Cup finals are as good a time as any to peak as a duo. And Bolland has no problem letting the youthful Shaw grab the spotlight -- even if he thought he had the winning deflection.
"It tipped off me, I started screaming and yelling, then Shawsy starting screaming and yelling," Bolland said. "I'm just glad it went in and it's over."