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.

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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.’’


How will the Blackhawks utilize Kirby Dach?

How will the Blackhawks utilize Kirby Dach?

The Blackhawks recalled No. 3 overall pick Kirby Dach from his AHL conditioning stint on Friday night after he appeared in three games with the Rockford IceHogs. He missed the first week of training camp with a concussion and the organization wanted him to get a taste of the pro action and back up to speed after not playing in any preseason games, either.

"I enjoyed the experience there," Dach said. "I had a lot of fun. Got to see a couple buddies. It was good for me to get down there and get some pro games under my belt and just feel what the pace is going to be like. It'll be another step up here, but I feel good and I feel like I'm ready to go."

Whether Dach makes his NHL debut on Sunday against the Washington Capitals won't be revealed by head coach Jeremy Colliton until after morning skate on Sunday. But where does he fit into the lineup going forward?

The Blackhawks are 2-0-1 in their past three games and aren't necessarily looking to shake up their rotation, even though they're still searching for consistency on all four lines.

The easy answer is for Dach to slide into a third-line center role behind Jonathan Toews and Dylan Strome, but the trio of David Kampf, Dominik Kubalik and Brandon Saad has undoubtedly been the most consistent for the Blackhawks this season. And we saw in the home opener what happened when they were separated. 

The Blackhawks held an optional practice on Saturday morning and didn't run through line rushes, but before Dach was assigned to Rockford, he took several spins on the first line with Toews and alternated with Drake Caggiula and Alex DeBrincat. It's possible Dach starts on the wing, where he can play top-six minutes and not have as much responsibility as a center would.

"I've played wing in previous years, so it's not something that's new to me," Dach said. "At the same time I'm open-minded to just getting into the lineup and helping the team win."

The Blackhawks can give Dach up to nine NHL games before deciding whether they want to burn the first year of his entry-level contract or send him back to the Saskatoon Blades of the WHL.

"As a kid you always grow up dreaming of playing in the NHL, so there'll be nerves," Dach said. "But there will also be a lot of excitement. I've just got to do my best to focus on my game and be ready to play whenever my name's called upon by the coaching staff."

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Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Blackhawks scratch out a win and Kirby Dach recalled

USA Today

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Blackhawks scratch out a win and Kirby Dach recalled

Pat Boyle and Charlie Roumeliotis welcome Nick Gismondi into the fold before discussing Friday's win over Columbus. Robin Lehner played stellar and is forming quite a tandem in net with Corey Crawford (4:10), while the DeBrincat/Kane connection is alive and well (6:10), and the Blackhawks' struggles at even strength continued (12:10). Then, the guys react to the breaking news of Kirby Dach's recall from Rockford and discuss where he might fit into this lineup (15:10).

Listen to the entire episode here or in the embedded player below.

Blackhawks Talk Podcast


Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Blackhawks easily on your device.