Game Two of the Stanley Cup Finals would prove that the Tampa Bay Lightning do things the unconventional way, and it works.
By Patrick Comia
Strange. That’s the word to best describe what occurred Saturday night at Amalie Arena.
The Tampa Bay Lightning showed that they weren’t too naïve in playing on a big stage such as the Stanley Cup Finals against a proven champion in the Chicago Blackhawks.
Just as Game One started, the Lightning were off to their typical fast-paced, aggressive start. In fact, their aggressiveness to put their body on any Blackhawks player last night was noticeable. They outhit the Blackhawks 33-27, which may have lead to Chicago not playing their controlled style.
With 7:04 left in the first, Ceric Paquette got the Lightning on the board, scoring his second goal of the post season. After some controlled chaos ignited by Ryan Callahan beating an icing play, a good 10-15 seconds of offensive pressure in the Blackhawks zone was on full display. Screens, shots towards Crawford, and keeping the puck in their offensive zone lead up to the goal.
And just like Game One, the Lightning got on the board first. But the question was if the Lightning could sustain the lead, add to it, or fold up their tents by playing prevent defense instead of continuing their pursuit play.
Nevertheless, the Blackhwaks were not to be denied and scored twice in the second to take a one goal lead.
Teuvo finds a way through for the @NHLBlackhawks. #StanleyCup http://t.co/yyXq0kCpH8
— NHL (@NHL) June 7, 2015
At the 16:56 mark, Blackhawks forward Andrew Shaw caught hold of loose puck in front of Lightning’s goalie Ben Bishop. Screens by Shaw and Marcus Kruger made it difficult to track the puck from Andrew Desjardins, who blasted a shot on goal. It hit the bodies in front never getting to Bishop, dropped to the ice, where Shaw made sure to put it in the back of the net.
At 14:40, the Blackhawks scored their second goal of the game thanks to the power play, which went one for three for the game. Game One’s hero Teuvo Ternavinen wristed a shot past the blocker side of Bishop, who was helped by a screen from Brandon Saad. A great display of give-and-go passing between Marian Hossa and Ternavinen made the goal possible.
However, the Lightning responded with two goals of their own in the same period thanks to two members of the Triplets Line.
At 13:08, the Lightning evened the contest at two goals a piece thanks to a deflection by Nikita Kucherov on a Jason Garrison‘s shot from the back end.
Then at 6:02, Tyler Johnson put the Lightning batting a loose puck after backhanding a shot off of Corey Crawford, who stopped 20 of 24 shots faced.
A little bit of déjà vu was experienced on the Lightning’s side in the third period. After 3:38 passed in the third, Brent Seabrook wired a shot from the point through traffic past Bishops’s left pad, tying the game, once again, at three.
The play was questionable cause of Marian Hossa’s stick appearing to interfere with Bishop’s ability to make the stop. Goal stood and assists went to Jonathan Toews and Johnny Oduya. Then, it started getting a little weird.
Questionable play calling by head coach Jon Cooper having his third and fourth lines play the opening minutes of the third. Since the puck drop to open the last 20 minutes of the game, the Lightning’s top lines saw little to no action on the ice, making it interesting for them.
At one point, the Lightning had two center men and three defenseman on the ice. It was unconventional, then again what the Lightning have shown in these playoffs has been. It has gotten them this far, why stop now.
Congrats to rookie goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy who earned his first career @NHL playoff win! #StanleyCup pic.twitter.com/3U9iTyKCWH
— 3 – @TBLightning (@TBLightning) June 7, 2015
If things weren’t strange enough for the Lightning, Andre Vasilevskiy replaced Bishop, not once but twice. It was not revealed why the goalie switch. However, it did give the rookie goaltender his first action in an NHL playoff game.
On the Lightning’s third power play, they finally broke through after going scoreless on their previous two opportunities. Thanks to Jason Garrison, who took a Victor Hedman pass and wired it off a Blackhawks player’s stick, he gave the Lightning for good.
Credit the Lightning team in learning from their past failures in last game. They kept pushing in the third, despite the choice of playing their bottom six forwards to open the third period and giving up a tying goal.
As a result of their efforts, they put the question of “do they have the killing instinct” to rest.
With the series tied at one game a piece, the two teams will travel north to the United Center, aka the Madhouse on Madison, for Games Three and Four. The series will get back underway on Monday evening at 8 pm EST.[su_button url=”https://elitesportsny.com/2015/06/06/new-york-mets-no-more-6-man-rotation-dillon-gee-annoyed/” target=”blank” background=”#0b396d” size=”10″ wide=”yes” radius=”0″]NEXT: Mets 6-Man Rotation Is Done[/su_button]