Just one day before Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final, Andrew Shaw laid out his plan for facing Boston's Zdeno Chara: "Don't get hit."
But when Shaw took the ice at the start of Wednesday's marathon matchup, he didn't dodge the physical play of the 6-foot-9 Bruins defenseman. From the time the puck dropped inside the United Center, Shaw showed his usual aggressive side against a player who towers nearly a foot over him. And it certainly paid off for No. 65, who went on to score the Blackhawks' game-winning goal in triple overtime.
"Stanley Cup playoffs, (it's) something you dream of as a kid," Shaw said following Chicago's 4-3 victory over the Bruins. "The opportunity's there, you have to seize it when it's there. I think all the guys are excited to get it started."
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Throughout the course of the evening, Shaw found himself tangled up with Chara a number of times, but in that time he kept up with the physicality that comes along with the Bruins' captain and even drew a penalty.
"(Chara's) a big boy, he's strong. (I had) a good battle in front of the net with him there," Shaw continued. "I think I held my own. He's a great player, logs a lot of minutes. Got to get on him and try to tire him out as much as we can."
Both teams faced the challenge of getting tired out after playing the equivalent of nearly two full games that continued until midnight on Wednesday. But Shaw fought through the fatigue to give the Blackhawks the goal they needed, and coach Joel Quenneville was certainly impressed with his young player's performance.
"Shaw's a competitor. He knows he does things game in and game out -- the bigger the stage, the bigger the challenge," Quenneville said. "He rises to the occasion; he knows where the net is, it doesn't have to be pretty. He's a warrior, he's one of those guys that you appreciate and you love that he's on your side."
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After all was said and done on the ice, Shaw said he's embraced his physical role within the team and takes the reputation of being an "agitator" as a compliment. Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews joined him after the game and had nothing but rave reviews for his 21-year-old teammate.
"I think you could ask players on other teams and they'll tell you that Shaw's not the type of guy that they like to play against, but that's what we love about him," Toews said. "We love having a guy like that on our team. He's not afraid, you saw him going up against Chara tonight. Probably the guy on our team that got up against him the most (and) hit him. Stirred him up a little bit, drew a penalty, scored a huge goal, unbelievable goal for anyone to score just going to the net.
"Doesn't matter how it goes in, I think everyone on the bench… we were happy that it was over. Happy that we got the win."