Late goals fuel Blackhawks victory over Lightning in Game 1


Late goals fuel Blackhawks victory over Lightning in Game 1

TAMPA, Fla. — Patrick Sharp talked of trust, of just going with the ups and downs that come with every game.

“I think it’s a credit to just trusting the process, staying with it,” Sharp said. “There are some stretches that don’t look so good. There are some stretches that look great. It’s all about that next shift and what you can do to help your team, and no better example than tonight.”

Indeed. The Lightning flashed their speed early, and it kept them on top for two periods. The Blackhawks flashed their third-period prowess late, and it helped them take Game 1.

Teuvo Teravainen scored with 6:32 remaining in regulation and Antoine Vermette added the winner just one minute, 58 seconds later as the Blackhawks came back to beat the Lightning, 2-1, in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final on Wednesday night. Game 2 is at 6 p.m. CT on Saturday.

Corey Crawford stopped 22 of 23 shots for the victory. Duncan Keith had an assist as did Andrew Shaw, who may or may not have bitten Tampa Bay defenseman Victor Hedman during a first-period scrum — “It felt like it,” Hedman said. “I have a little bruise, so maybe.”

[MORE: Teravainen, Vermette score two in 1:58 as Blackhawks win Game 1]

One surprise came before the game even began, as Bryan Bickell is out day-to-day with an upper-body injury. Coach Joel Quenneville said Bickell is “close. We’ll see how he is over the next day or so.” Kris Versteeg, who rejoined the team Tuesday morning after he and his wife welcomed their first child on Monday, took Bickell’s place.

While the lineup was slightly different, the Blackhawks’ ability to find a way remained the same. The Blackhawks played a more aggressive third period, outshooting the Lightning 6-0 at one point. Then Teravainen struck, his shot screened by Valtteri Filppula and Marcus Kruger, among others, before settling behind Ben Bishop to tie the game 1-1.

“I just try to shoot. Shoot high there and sometimes good things happen,” Teravainen said. “I think there was a lot of traffic in the net. Krugs was out there and maybe the goalie didn’t see it.”

Less than two minutes later, Teravainen poked the puck away from J.T. Brown and got it to Vermette, who fired high to give the Blackhawks a 2-1 lead with 4:34 remaining in regulation.

“I think that was a great illustration with the way we try to play,” Vermette said of the game-winning goal. “We try to establish our speed and are moving our feet, especially on our end. Teuvo created a turnover, I got the puck and got a shot out of it.”

In a game that didn’t feature many great scoring opportunities, the Blackhawks capitalized on two late ones. It helped them get over a very slow start.

[NBC SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

The Lightning, meanwhile, couldn’t have had a better start. Fueled by a boisterous home crowd, Tampa Bay came out flying, buzzing around Crawford not long after the opening puck drop. Their lone goal was a beauty, as Alex Killorn redirected an Anton Stralman pass — or had one of the niftiest backhand shots ever, we can’t decide — to give the Lightning a 1-0 lead just 4:31 into the game.

But the Lightning couldn’t find another goal among their 23 shots at it.

“I think the way I'd look at the game, we didn't really give them much the entire game. If we're going to sit here and count, yeah, did they have a little more puck possession in the third period, they did. There's no question,” Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper said. “Could we have made a few more poised plays? I suppose we could have. But I thought we had chances to put them away. We didn't put them away.”

The Blackhawks’ core has learned a lot through these postseasons. They’ve learned not to react too extreme to the ups and downs of every contest. They’ve learned to trust that they’ll figure things out. On Wednesday, they did. Again.

“The last half of the game I thought we were fine. Playing catch-up to against a team that, when they get the lead on you they get into the prevent defense, it was tough to get through. Basically we had to get through,” Quenneville said. “Finding a way today is a good illustration of what this team’s all about. Finding ways to win, it was probably a good example of that tonight.”

Blackhawks edge out Senators in shootout: 'It was really nice to get a win'

Blackhawks edge out Senators in shootout: 'It was really nice to get a win'

It was a rare sight to see the Blackhawks in a shootout on Wednesday night.

It was just the second time this season — and first time at the United Center — that the Blackhawks made it past 3-on-3 overtime. 

The last came on Dec. 2, 2017, a 3-2 shootout loss to the Stars in Dallas. On Wednesday night, the Blackhawks were on the other end, beating the Ottawa Senators 3-2 in a seven-round shootout. Nick Schmaltz netted the game-winner.

"We'll take it," coach Joel Quenneville said. "I thought we had a decent game tonight. Overtime not so good, I liked the shootout victory, Fors made some big saves for us particularly as the game got deeper. Our third was OK, I thought our first two were way better, and overtime we gave up some high quality, some bells were rings for a bit there. But it was nice to see the shootout win."

Patrick Kane had a goal and an assist, recording another multi-point game, his 16th of the season.

"I mean we need every point we can get at this point," Kane said. "There's still belief in this locker room. Obviously we need to go on quite a run and have a big record here down the stretch. But take it a game at a time and nice to get two points."

Anton Forsberg was a big reason the Blackhawks even recorded those two points. The 25-year-old netminder stopped 34 of 36 shots and made a handful of big saves down the stretch.

"It was really nice to get a win for sure," Forsberg said. "I would love to have a lot more wins, but right now just gotta look forward and get as many wins as possible."

Added Quenneville: "I think it was good for him to win a game the way he did. Lot of shots were on the line, as we progressed, got deeper, hitting the point first was big for him and for us and then finding a way to get the extra one was a good win."

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks collide with Senators

NBC Sports Chicago

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks collide with Senators

Here are Three Things to Watch when the Blackhawks take on the Ottawa Senators tonight on NBC Sports Chicago and streaming live on the NBC Sports app. Coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live.

1. Trade chips.

The Blackhawks have reached the point in their season where they have no choice but to become sellers before the Feb. 26 deadline, and we saw that when they traded Michal Kempny to the Washington Capitals on Monday for a conditional third-round pick in 2018. Tommy Wingels could also be an attractive piece for a team looking to fill out their depth.

The Senators will definitely be sellers, and wow do they have some names potentially on the market that can fetch large returns: Derrick Brassard and Mike Hoffman are two players who log top-six minutes on a nightly basis and also have term left on their contract, which is great for teams looking to load up for this year and beyond.

The biggest name to watch, probably in the league altogether, is Erik Karlsson, who could be on the move if a team offers a big enough package for the Senators to pull the trigger now as opposed to in the offseason if they feel him re-signing is a long shot. He was the best defenseman last season, and if a team steps up to get him, they're getting two possible postseason runs out of him.

2. Artem Anisimov's experiment at left wing not working.

Joel Quenneville has tried rekindling the magic between Anisimov, Nick Schmaltz and Patrick Kane as of late, only this time Anisimov is playing the wing and it just hasn't been very effective. The trio was on the ice for each of the two 5-on-5 goals the Kings scored on Monday, and Anisimov completely lost his man on the first one.

It's important to establish a consistent left winger for Schmaltz and Kane, and maybe putting Alex DeBrincat up there is something you consider going forward as part of a long-term solution. Move Anisimov back down as the third-line center to play in more of a defensive role and continue using his big body on power plays for his offensive abilities might be the best bet.

3. Win the special teams battle.

In their last meeting against Ottawa on Jan. 9, the Blackhawks went 4-for-6 on the power play and 4-on-4 on the penalty kill in an 8-2 win. And those are two areas to look out for again.

The Senators own the 28th-ranked power play with a 16.1 percent success rate and 29th-ranked penalty kill with a 74.5 percent success rate. Get ready for another offensive outburst?