Lightning stave off Blackhawks in Game 2, even up series


Lightning stave off Blackhawks in Game 2, even up series

TAMPA, Fla. — The Blackhawks felt they got away with one in Game 1, needing two goals within two minutes late in the third period to beat the Tampa Bay Lightning.

They said they wanted to be better in Game 2 and for awhile, it looked like they were. And while the Blackhawks were contributing more on offense, the Lightning were taking more at the other end.

Brent Seabrook scored his seventh goal of the postseason but Jason Garrison scored the game-winning power-play goal about five minutes later as the Lightning beat the Blackhawks, 4-3, in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final on Saturday night. The series is tied 1-1 heading to Chicago, where the Blackhawks will host Game 3 on Monday and Game 4 on Wednesday.

Corey Crawford allowed four goals on 24 shots in a performance coach Joel Quenneville said was “just OK.”

As opposed to Game 1, in which neither team had many great scoring opportunities, Game 2 was more open, more offensive-minded and came with a few surprises. The biggest shocker came in the third period when Tampa Bay goaltender Ben Bishop exited the game twice, first briefly and the second time for the rest of the game. Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped five shots in relief. Coach Jon Cooper would not discuss what happened to Bishop or the goaltender’s status going forward.

[MORE: Antoine Vermette coming up big for Blackhawks]

The third period began with an expected change, when Quenneville split Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, putting Kane back on the second line with Brad Richards and Kris Versteeg and Marian Hossa back on the top line with Toews and Brandon Saad. The Lightning had held Toews and Kane in check for five periods.

“They’re working hard, they’re playing good hockey, playing smart, defensive hockey,” Toews said of Tampa’s defense. “We just got to stay with it. I think Saad had a great chance 2-on-1 early in the game, I had a great chance where it bounced right off my stick — great set-up by Kaner — so one of those go in, maybe you’re not sitting here asking those questions as much.”

Quenneville said the Toews/Kane dismantling was more for balance.

“They had some great looks there, a couple really good quality chances in the first period, good stuff in the second. They were dangerous,” Quenneville said. “But got more balance off [the change]. We scored right away, then lost the momentum.”

The right-away score came from Seabrook, who tied the game 3-3 at the time. The momentum loss came about five minutes later when the Blackhawks were trying to kill off the Lightning’s second consecutive power play. The Lightning went on the advantage on back-to-back Patrick Sharp infractions, and Garrison got the winning goal on the second one.

“It was something I don’t think I’ve ever done that before, but it happened. Move on from it,” Sharp said. “I take responsibility and I apologized to our penalty-killers for putting them under such stress.”

[NBC SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

Andrew Shaw and Teuvo Teravainen (power play) scored for the Blackhawks, who took a 2-1 lead on those two second-period goals before the Lightning came back with two of their own. Tyler Johnson scored his 13th goal of the postseason, a new Lightning franchise record, his shot sneaking through Crawford’s stick side.

“I definitely don’t want to give that up,” Crawford said. “He kind of fanned on his backhand, it hit the side of the net. I don’t know how it bounced up. I kind of lost it from there. But I felt something on my back. You can’t give those up in these games — two goals we just gave them and gave them the momentum back.”

The Blackhawks didn’t create much in Game 1 but they also didn’t give up much, either. In Game 2 they did both, but too much of the latter against a young, opportunistic team willing to take. Still, they split on the road and head back to the United Center, where they’ve lost once this postseason.

“Let’s keep it in perspective: it’s a good team,” Toews said. “To go home tied 1-all I don’t think is something we’re satisfied with considering the position we were in coming into tonight. [But] we’ve got to be excited, definitely, going back to our building.’’


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?

Podcast: Which Blackhawks could be on the move before trade deadline?


Podcast: Which Blackhawks could be on the move before trade deadline?

On the latest Blackhawks Talk Podcast, Adam Burish and Pat Boyle discuss which Blackhawks could be on the trading block and what players are building blocks for the Hawks future.

Burish also shares a couple memorable trade deadline days and his “near” return to the Blackhawks in 2012. Plus, he makes his bold trade deadline prediction for the Hawks.

Listen to the full Blackhawks Talk Podcast right here: