Lightning Beat Blackhawks in Game 2 of Stanley Cup Finals

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Game 2, Chicago v. Tampa Bay, An Exciting Treat

First Period

After Chicago came back to win an exciting Game 1 in the last seven minutes, no one could tell where Game 1 would be headed but knew they were in for an exciting treat. Game 2 started with Chicago keeping up the pressure from their previous victory in Game 1. The Blackhawks started the game with numerous offense attempts testing Lightning goalie Ben Bishop from the start. Tampa Bay regained their intensity and soon the game became a back and forth battle of offensive setups and outstanding goal keeper saves on each side by both Tampa’s Ben Bishop and Chicago’s Corey Crawford.

However, it would be the Tampa Bay Lightning who answered first. After the Lightning’s numerous attempts being shut down by Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford, Lightning player Ryan Callahan was credited with the assist as he was able to get the puck out of the middle of the scrum in front of Chicago’s Crawford and dish it to teammate Cedric Paquette.

Paquette would use an excellent stick move to bypass Chicago’s Brandon Saad and get the space to put a hard wrist shot past goalie Corey Crawford’s left side to put the Bolts up 1-0 with just barely seven minutes left on the clock in the first period.

cedric paquette scores
Cedric Paquette lunges to score a goal

Second Period

The second period of game 2 started out furiously as both teams showed no signs of slowing down. Just minutes into the second period Chicago would finally put up a point on the scoreboard. After keeping the puck in Tampa’s end with exceptional passing, and movement, Andrew Desjardins would take distant slap shot on Ben Bishop. Bishop made the save easily but could not control the puck allowing it to roll to the left pad of his pad and in perfect reach of the Blackhawk’s Andrew Shaw whose strategy of screening goalie Ben Bishop gave him perfect proximity to score.

Chicago would continue the offense pressure and takes the lead at 2-1 with just under fifteen minutes left in the second period as Teuvo Teravainen scored on a power play from Marian Hossa. Teravainen would set up a beautiful give and go pass from Marian Hossa as Brandon Saad continued to screen goalie Ben Bishop. Teravainen put the puck right past Bishop into the left side of the net to give Chicago the lead by one. This was truly great execution from Teravainen and Hossa and something the Blackhawks coaching staff would like to see even more this series.

The difference between game one and two for the Lightning was seen in the latter half of the second period. With just over thirteen minutes left Tampa Bay refused to sit back and watch Chicago take the game. The Lightning kept up the pressure as Jason Garrison would take a wrist shot that deflected off teammate’s Nikita Kucherov’s skate to sneak past Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford to tie the game at 2-2 with just over thirteen minutes left in the second period. The Lightning, again having learnt lessons from giving away a loss in game one, continued to put points on the board.

Tyler Johnson would begin to skate the puck in towards goalie Corey Crawford with over six minutes left in the second period. Having no angle, many thought Johnson would pass but instead he tried to sneak the puck past Crawford’s near side. There initially appeared to be no angle in which Johnson could score and it appeared Crawford had made an easy save; however the puck was not secured by Crawford.

Johnson’s tenacity to continue to bat at the puck prevailed as it somehow slipped past Crawford’s right leg and give the Bolts the lead at the end of the second period at 3-2. This play summed up what offensive players dream about and what goalies have nightmares about. There is no question that Chicago Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford will be having nightmares about this goal.

chicago celebrates equalizer
Chicago celebrates equalizer

Third Period

The third period would show that each team was not going to give up without a fight. Chicago had come back from behind in game one and the Blackhawks knew they had the chance to do it again.

Just like the previous game Chicago would again come alive in the third period. The Blackhawks would be the first to score the in the third period as Jonathan Toews skated the puck up into the Lightning’s zone with ease drawing the attention of the opposing defense and moreover allowing teammate Brent Seabrook to get completely open for a shot. Seabrook did not disappoint as he took a hard slap shot that went directly into the back of the right side of the net to tie the game at 3-3.

The only thing quicker than Seabrook’s shot may have been goalie Ben Bishop’s reaction to a blown penalty call on Chicago. After the goal, Bishop immediately skated over to the referee fiercely protesting the goal complaining that Chicago’s Hossa had hit Bishop’s leg pad with his stick interfering with the save. On the replay of the goal, Hossa’s contact is not only obvious but moreover, the same thing contact is seen on Bishop other side receiving contact from Chicago’s Saad. Nevertheless, there is no goalie interference call and the game is tied at 3-3 with just over sixteen minutes left in play.

Keeping up with lessons learned from game one, Tampa Bay kept the rally up convinced to not let the game escape their grasp. With around thirteen minutes remaining in the end of the third period the Lightning found themselves dealing with an interesting dilemma as goalie Ben Bishop exited the game. He would be replaced by twenty year old goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy. The Lightning kept fighting with their new goalie by their side but the goals were just not there despite the effort.

Finally the Bolts would get a chance on a power play. Settling the puck in Chicago’s zone, the Lightning’s Victor Hedman would set up for a shot but instead give a great pass to an open teammate Garrison. Garrison, seeing no defense in sight, wound up and let his slap shot do the talking as the puck sailed into the net with just over eleven minutes left in the game. Just like that the Lightning was back in the lead, and just like that, goalie Ben Bishop substituted back on. Literally minutes later, Bishop would again exit the game with Andrei Vasilevskiy substituting in with just less than eight minutes in the entire game remaining.

The game would finish with hard fought tenacity on both sides showing that game three will be an extremely exciting game. The Blackhawks kept the heat up until the final seconds but it was nothing that goalie Vasilevskiy couldn’t handle. There is a lot of praise deserved for the young Andrei Vasilevskiy. The goalie stood on his head in the last minutes of the game, making amazing saves even through a two minute power play to seal the victory and tie the series at 1-1.

time runs out in the third
Time runs out in the third as Tampa buries Chicago behind the goal

Postgame Analysis

Despite Tampa Bay’s hard fought home win there are a lot of questions surrounding Tampa Bay’s goalie situation especially since Lightning coach John Cooper refused to comment on it. What exactly is going on with goalie Ben Bishop? Is Bishop healthy enough to start game three in Chicago? With a young talented goalie in Vasilevskiy this is no easy coaching matter especially when you are headed to Chicago. However, Vasilevskiy has shown he is capable, even if it was only for minutes.

How many other 20 year old goalies can enter the third period of the Stanley Cup finals with no heads up whatsoever and play absolutely amazing? Players either perform or collapse under pressure and Vasilevskiy performed greatly.

Also realize that the third period was of absolute importance for the Lightning after blowing the game in the third period previously. For this goalie to enter such a similar scenario and stand tall shows great potential for the young Russian goalie. If Bishop remains healthy, the Lightning has a tough problem with two goalies sowing so much promise. However, it’s a tough, but good problem for the Lightning to have.

As long as there is no locker room drama between the two goalies, the Bolts are off to a great start as they get ready to head west to Chicago. For Tampa Bay Coach John Cooper, hopefully Ben Bishop is healthy and ready to start for the Lightning in game three with an extremely talented and ambitious backup goalie behind him awaiting his chance to shine in Vasilevskiy.

For the Blackhawks, although the team wanted to return to Chicago with two wins, they must feel good about at least getting one in Florida. If Chicago can win the next two games at home they could potentially return to Florida leading the series at 3-1.

The 2015 Stanley Cup finals have been thrilling from start to finish and show no signs of slowing down. Game Three of the Stanley Cup Finals resumes Monday June 8th at 8:00 PM Eastern live from Chicago, Illinois.

See the four games:

Blackhawks Shock Lightning in Game One of Stanley Cup Finals

Lightning Beat Blackhawks in Game 2 of Stanley Cup Finals

Blackhawks Lose Game Three at Home to Lightning

Blackhawks Take Stanley Cup Game Four