By Shane Nicholson
The Blackhawks were outdone 4-3 in a rollicking Game 2 by a Tampa Bay side out to make sure this Stanley Cup Finals was not doomed from the start.
Much like the opening frame of Game 1 the Lightning were able to control much of the play, creating a half-dozen scoring chances in the opening five minutes alone.
Relying less on their speed and more on an aggressive forecheck Tampa Bay was able to pepper Corey Crawford’s goal often from turnovers, forcing the Blackhawks keeper into a series of quality saves with the post saving Crawford from what would have been another early opener for the Lightning.
The opener came from Cedric Paquette after a sloppy passage of play from the Hawks in their own end.
A partial clearance fell to Paquette at the top of the slot, and after a nifty move he was able to slide a shot past Jonathan Toews and over Crawford’s right shoulder.
A back-and-forth second period saw both teams flying up and down the ice and four goals scored.
Andrew Shaw leveled for the Blackhawks after just 3 minutes of the period, latching onto a puck just outside Ben Bishop’s net.
Teuvo Teravainen gave Chicago its first lead of the game just over two minutes later, finishing off a well-worked power play with a goal from the right circle.
But Tampa Bay moved back ahead after Nikita Kucherov redirected a shot past Crawford at 6:52 into the period before Tyler Johnson tallied his 13th of the playoffs just shy of the 14 minute mark.
The Hawks struck first after the break with Brent Seabrook finishing off a Toews pass to the high slot at 3:38 to tie the game 3-3.
Patrick Sharp drew back-to-back minors moments later and Tampa Bay took advantage on the second power play with a Jason Garrison shot taking a deflection off Andrew Desjardins’ stick past Crawford to give Tampa Bay the lead again.
Bishop left the game for undisclosed reasons a second time with under 8 minutes to play, replaced by 20-year-old goalkeeper Andrei Vasilevskiy.
Crawford was pulled at 2 minutes remaining to give the Hawks the man advantage but Tampa Bay held the line, taking the game 4-3 and leveling the series at one apiece.
Vasilevskiy got the win in relief, making five saves down the stretch. Crawford finished with 20 saves.
Game 3 is Monday in Chicago, 7 p.m. on NBC Sports Net.