GAME TWO RECAP
After a tough loss to the Hawks in the initial match-up of the Stanley Cup Finals, many were curious to see how the Bolts would respond in Game 2. The result was a barn burner in which the momentum swung back and forth culminating in a Tampa Bay win (their first Finals win since their Stanley Cup victory in 2004).
The Bolts struck first by putting some serious pressure on Corey Crawford after Ryan Callahan hustled to beat out an icing call and keep the puck in the Chicago end. After a flurry of activity down low in front of the net, the puck went back out to the point where Cedric Paquette made a nifty deke around Brandon Saad and rifled the puck through traffic over Crawford's shoulder. This gave Tampa the momentum after one period of play.
However, Chicago responded early on in the second with two quick goals by Andrew Shaw and Teuvo Teravainen. Shaw pounced on a loose rebound that Bishop leaked after stopping a bad-angle shot. Alex Killorn then took a hooking penalty that put Chicago on the power play, and the Hawks were able to convert by cycling the puck effectively and finding Teravainen open in the slot. With the Blackhawks up 2-1, the Lightning needed to answer quickly. The Triplet Line (Nikita Kucherov, Ondrej Palat, and Tyler Johnson) had been relatively quiet up to that point, but they provided the critical momentum shift that Tampa needed.
Just under two minutes after Chicago took the lead, Kucherov had a beauty of a deflection off of a blueline slapper by Jason Garrison that fooled Crawford. Then, Tyler Johnson showed why he has been talked about in Conn Smythe conversations. The notoriously hard-working Spokanite jammed at the loose puck that Crawford had stopped against the post but not fully secured, and the puck trickled over the line to give the Bolts the lead once again.
The Blackhawks started the third period with pressure similar to what they applied in the second, striking quickly with a somewhat controversial goal from Brent Seabrook. However, in this game of inches the game-winning goal for the Lightning came after Patrick Sharp took a high-sticking penalty. Jason Garrison's shot from the point went off Andrew Desjardins and in. Despite all the goaltending swaps going on in the third period the Bolts were able to come away winners to pull even with Chicago.
GAME THREE PREVIEW
Now the series shifts to Chicago, and a primary topic going into Game 3 is Ben Bishop's availability to start. He left Game 2 a couple of times in the third period for unspecified reasons. Lightning head coach Jon Cooper hasn't been giving any details, joking at the non-gameday presser that "in honor of the 11-year anniversary of our organization's first Stanley Cup, how would John Tortorella answer that question? I'll just leave it at that."
Andrei Vasilevskiy stepped in for Bishop and stopped all five shots he faced in just over nine minutes of ice time; he was also on the ice for Garrison's GWG, meaning the Russian rookie picked up his first NHL postseason win. The Russian youngster became the first goalie to come into a Stanley Cup Final game in relief and earn his first playoff win since Lester Patrick donned the goalie pads in 1928 and backstopped the Rangers to victory. While as of this writing there haven't been any answers to the tendy question yet, Twitter humorist Roberto Luongo had a unique take on the situation:
Must be diarrhea..... #expertanalasys— Strombone (@strombone1) June 7, 2015
During the Game 3 morning skate, Jon Cooper and Ben Bishop both remained mum on the topic; Bishop threw out a reference to a Seattle sports icon by quipping "I feel like Marshawn Lynch right now."
The Hawks are 7-1 at home in these playoffs, and they will have to take full advantage of their ability to strike quickly (as they did in both Finals games so far). How will they fare with their raucous fans behind them? Will "Chelsea Dagger" be played frequently over the next two games? Here are some interviews as the teams get ready for Monday.
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