TAMPA, Fla. — The Blackhawks liked more of what they did in Game 2 against the Tampa Bay Lightning than in Game 1. The result, however, they didn’t care for so much.
As much as the Blackhawks had more zip at the start, they didn’t have enough finish in their 4-3 loss to the Lighting on Saturday night. They’ll take the 1-1 Stanley Cup Final split heading back to Chicago, where they host Games 3 and 4 on Monday and Wednesday, respectively. So before we head back home ourselves, let’s look at Five Things to take from the Blackhawks’ loss to the Lightning.
1. Penalties kill. Patrick Sharp had a rough four minutes early in the third period, when he was whistled for two consecutive penalties (slashing and high-sticking). The Blackhawks killed off the first penalty and were 28 seconds away from killing off the second one. But Jason Garrison’s blue-line shot got through — hitting off Andrew Desjardins, we believe — for the game-winning goal. Sharp said he apologized to the Blackhawks’ penalty killers. Coach Joel Quenneville said the Blackhawks may have been “a little tired on the latter part of the kill. We did an outstanding job on the first one and almost got through the second one.”
2. Corey Crawford “just OK.” That was Quenneville’s assessment on the Blackhawks’ starting goaltender, who was great in Game 1 but allowed one or two not-so-good ones in Game 2. The toughest one to swallow was Tyler Johnson’s goal, which bounced up and off Crawford’s back and in. Crawford will need to be better than “just OK” in Game 3.
3. Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane separate. Listen, we know everyone likes Toews and Kane together on the top line. But right now, it’s not working. The Lightning’s checking line, centered by Cedric Paquette, is shutting the duo down. Kane didn’t have a shot on goal in Game 2. By the start of the third period the two were separated. They should stay that way, because one of the league’s most dynamic duos has gone cold and needs a spark that they’re not getting together.
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4. Memorize Andrei Vasilevskiy’s name. We’re only saying that just in case he’s Tampa Bay’s starter in Game 3. Listen, we don’t know what happened to Ben Bishop. One Montreal television outlet reported Bishop having a knee injury. Others are saying it’s just an illness. Lightning coach Jon Cooper would say nothing, as is expected in a Cup Final. So know the backup goaltender’s name just in case. We’ll practice spelling it too.
5. Be happy with the split. Let’s remember the Blackhawks weren’t that great in Game 1 and still came away with the victory — we’re paraphrasing Toews there. The Blackhawks are heading back home with this series tied 1-1, which is never a bad thing. We expect a change or two in Game 3 — well, we expect Trevor van Riemsdyk to play, at least. Also expect the Blackhawks to play their best game yet, from start to finish.