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.”

Former Blackhawks goalie Ray Emery dies in early morning drowning

Former Blackhawks goalie Ray Emery dies in early morning drowning

Former Blackhawks goaltender Ray Emery was identified as the victim in an early morning drowning on Sunday at the Hamilton Harbour, Hamilton Police confirmed. He was 35.

According to the Hamilton Spectator, Emery and his friends jumped in the water around 6:30 a.m., but Emery never resurfaced. His body was recovered later in the afternoon.

Emery played in the NHL for 11 seasons, two of which came with the Blackhawks from 2011-13, where he served as a backup goaltender to Corey Crawford.

In 2013, he teammated up with Crawford to win the William M. Jennings Trophy, awarded to the goaltender(s) with the fewest goals against in a single season, before going on to capture his first Stanley Cup. During that season, Emery went 17-1-0 with a 1.94 goals against average, .922 save percentage and three shutouts.

The Blackhawks issued this statement following the confirmation:

The Chicago Blackhawks organization was deeply saddened to hear of Ray Emery’s passing. We extend our heartfelt condolences to his family and friends. The Blackhawks will fondly remember Ray as a fierce competitor, a good teammate and a Stanley Cup champion.

The hockey community took to Twitter to offer their condolences when news began to spread:

Thank you, Marian Hossa: An ode to one of the best Blackhawks ever

Thank you, Marian Hossa: An ode to one of the best Blackhawks ever

When the Blackhawks drafted Jonathan Toews third overall in 2006 and Patrick Kane with the No. 1 pick the following year, it was a sign that the dark skies were clearing in Chicago. Things really started to change when Rocky Wirtz took over as chairman following the death of his father Bill in September of 2007, and one of the first decisions he made was to televise all 82 games.

The fans were coming back.

For only the second time in 11 years, the Blackhawks finished above .500 in 2007-08 but missed the playoffs by three points, a season in which Kane won the Calder Trophy as the league's top rookie.

The following year Joel Quenneville took over as head coach after only three games to provide some coaching experience behind the bench for a young team on the rise. It resulted in a 104-point season and ended in a Conference Finals berth at the hands of the arch-rival Detroit Red Wings in five games.

The Blackhawks were ready to make that step into championship contenders. They just needed someone to put them over the edge.

Enter Marian Hossa.

On July 1 of 2009, he committed to the Blackhawks for 12 years worth $62.8 million. He bought into the long-term vision and wanted to be a part of something special for many years to come.

Was he ever.

In his first game as a member of the Blackhawks, Hossa scored two goals in a 7-2 road victory against San Jose after missing the first month and a half of the season with a shoulder injury. It was at that moment where you saw what kind of powerhouse the Blackhawks could be and would become with a full lineup and future Hall of Fame winger added to a mixture of franchise-changing players scratching the surface.

Fast forward to Game 5 of the 2010 quarterfinals. You know how it goes. Series is tied 2-2. The Blackhawks trail 4-3 late in the third period. Extra attacker is on. How many times have we seen this? The Blackhawks were surely going to find a way to tie it up ... and then Hossa is sent to the box with 1:03 to play in regulation. A five-minute major boarding penalty.


Not so fast. 

Patrick Kane went on to score arguably the biggest goal in Blackhawks history, a shorthanded one that evened it up with 13.6 seconds to go. United Center is up for grabs. But there are still four minutes left to kill off on the penalty once overtime starts, which Hossa once called "the longest four minutes of my life." 

In a span of nine seconds following the penalty kill, Hossa jumped on the ice from the box, darted straight for the net and buried home what was the second-biggest goal in franchise history to put the Blackhawks up 3-2 in the series. Two nights later Hossa assisted on three goals and the Blackhawks eliminated the Nashville Predators in their barn.

The rest is history.

Who knows if the Blackhawks rally to win that series if they don't tie it up or win it in overtime. Who knows if they break through the next year. Who knows if that core group even remains together. The course of the franchise could've changed that night.

Instead, Hossa was handed the Stanley Cup for the first time in his career on June 9, 2010 from Jonathan Toews, who couldn't give it to him fast enough after he came up on the losing end in consecutive appearances with the Pittsburgh Penguins and Detroit Red Wings in 2008 and 2009.

Hossa would add two more titles to his résumé with the Blackhawks in 2013 and 2015, which almost certainly locked up his legacy as one of the all-time greats and his eventual next stop: The Hockey Hall of Fame. The wait was worth it.

"I was hoping to get one coming to Chicago and now I’ve got three," Hossa said following the 2015 Stanley Cup win. "What a feeling." 

The Blackhawks don't win three Stanley Cups without Hossa, who will go down as arguably the greatest free-agent signing in Chicago sports history.

On behalf of the city of Chicago: Thank you, 81.