Milan Lucic and the Boston Bruins were rolling along and in command.
Then, in a flash, everything changed.
In the end, the Boston Bruins went from two goals up to one game down, and now they'll have to pick themselves up after an epic 4-3 triple-overtime loss to the Chicago Blackhawks in the opener of the Stanley Cup finals.
What choice do they have?
"You have to," Lucic said. "You're in a position now where you have to. When you come on the road and start the series on the road, you obviously want to get that Game 1. When you're not able to accomplish that, you put all your effort into winning Game 2."
It's not the first time the Bruins find themselves trying to peel themselves off the ground.
They were all but knocked out in the first round against Toronto, only to come roaring back.
For that matter, they dropped the first two games to Vancouver in the 2011 finals before rallying to win the championship in seven games. They'll try to avoid falling into a similar hole in this one when the best-of-seven series resumes Saturday at the United Center.
The Bruins might be up 1-0 if not for some key mistakes and bad bounces that spoiled an otherwise solid performance by Tuukka Rask in goal.
He did his part. His teammates didn't, and a wild sequence at the end finished off this thriller.
Michael Rozsival's shot deflected off Dave Bolland and Andrew Shaw before slipping into the net for the winner at 12:08 of the third OT Wednesday night, bringing a wild game to an appropriate finish.
"You're not going to make any fancy backdoor plays," Rask said. "That's where it came down to. I thought, especially in the last overtime, we were forcing the play a little too much and they just shot the puck and it found its way in and it went in."
It was a fitting conclusion to a game that saw the Bruins blow a two-goal lead late in regulation through little fault of Rask's. Had the puck not been deflected, Rask believes he would have stopped it. After all, it wasn't a hard shot by Roszival. He just threw it into traffic.
"Last time we won the Cup, we lost the first two games to Vancouver. It never stopped us from coming back. This certainly won't," coach Claude Julien said. "When you look at the game, it could have gone either way. I thought we had some real great looks in overtime. With a little bit of luck, we could have ended it before they did."
Either way, this game more than lived up to the hype.
In the first championship meeting in 34 years between Original Six franchises, the Bruins were sailing along with a 3-1 lead after Lucic scored twice and Patrice Bergeron added a power-play goal just over six minutes into the third period.
What looked like a safe lead quickly evaporated thanks to one big turnover and one unfortunate bounce for the Bruins.
The comeback started when Shaw picked off a clearing attempt by Torey Krug and fed Dave Bolland on a two-on-one rush to pull Chicago within one with 12 minutes left in regulation. Lucic then got stopped on a two-on-one by Corey Crawford midway through the third, and Johnny Oduya tied it for Chicago when his shot from the point deflected off Boston's Andrew Ference defending at the side of the crease and bounced past Rask.
Just like that, the game was tied.
Rask came in with a league playoff-high .943 save percentage, and he stopped 59 shots in this one. He went 149:36 without giving up a goal before rookie Brandon Saad scored off a feed from Marian Hossa to make it 2-1 and bring the crowd to its feet.
They were really roaring in the end, and now, the Bruins will have to shake this one off after winning nine of the previous 10 games.
"We had the game," Rask said. "We're up 3-1 in the third and then a terrible turnover leads to a second goal and then a tough bounce leads to the tying goal, and we just gave it away."
It wasn't just the turnover before Bolland's goal, the shot by Oduya that deflected off Ference or the winner. Jaromir Jagr nearly won it on a power play in the closing seconds of the second OT when the puck deflected off him, only to hit the post. And in the third OT, Kaspars Daugavins' backhand shot in the crease went wide after Oduya got a stick on him.
"I guess it will hurt for a little bit," Daugavins said. "Got to get a good night's sleep and analyze the things you did wrong and get back and working hard in practice and get ready for Game 2."
Already in these playoffs the Bruins blew a 3-1 series lead and then rallied from three down in the third period of the seventh game against Toronto.
"It definitely gets tougher and tougher, but at the end of the day you're going to have to find a way to dig deep and try to win the game," Lucic said. "I think we played well in all three periods of overtime to give us a chance to win, but unfortunately we didn't get the result."