If anyone ever asks why the NHL favors a best-of-seven format to determine their champion instead of a one-game, winner-take-all battle, let Friday afternoon's game be a lesson.
The Detroit Red Wings and Boston Bruins pushed each other, pushed back and then pushed harder, taking their battle to an extra five minutes and eventually to a shootout before Detroit prevailed, winning the shootout 2-1 and the game 3-2 before another sellout TD Garden crowd of 17,565.
The game, which was the first American network broadcast of hockey this early in the season in over 20 years, disappointed neither viewers nor NBC executives, as all parties involved got their money's worth.
The Bruins came out flying early - something that hasn't exactly been typical of their team in afternoon games over the past few years - at one point holding a 10-2 shots on goal advantage, but it was Detroit who struck first when Valtteri Filppula and Henrik Zetterberg conected on a give-and-go that Bruins' netminder Tuukka Rask had no chance to stop.
The Bruins continued to dominate the first period, but they wouldn't even the score until the second, when a Shawn Thornton check on Drew Miller forced the Detroit winger to make an early line change, opening up space for Nathan Horton to find Danny Paille, who scored his third of the season with Detroit netminder Jimmy Howard down and out of the crease.
Pavel Datsyuk would respond for Detroit just 35 seconds later, catching the Bruins napping, beating Johnny Boychuk and going wide on Rask.
The 2-1 lead held for almost 25 minutes, but a heavy forecheck by Patrice Bergeron forced a turnover off the stick of Jonathan Ericsson which Bergeron quickly wristed past Howard to tie the game.
The Bruins managed to control the majority of the action for the rest of the game, but couldn't find the back of the net when it counted most.
Datsyuk scored on Detroit's first try in the shootout, with Nathan Horton getting the Bruins' lone tally on Boston's third try. Todd Bertuzzi had the deciding goal.