By Shane Nicholson
Ben Bishop returned to the net for the Lightning in Game 5 but it wasn’t enough as Chicago outlasted the Lightning 2-1 to take a 3-2 lead in the series.
Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper laid to rest the goaltender question 30 minutes before puck drop with Bishop coming out for the pregame skate around.
Just 5:30 into the first Corey Crawford nearly gifted the Lightning the opening goal when his attempted clearance hit Nikita Kucherov in the chest.
As the Tampa Bay forward scrambled to put the puck in the Hawks’ net he tripped over Crawford’s outstretched stick, crashing into the goalpost. He left the game and would not return.
Just 40 seconds later Bishop and defenseman Victor Hedman collided after Teuvo Teravainen lifted a puck toward the left corner. Patrick Sharp latched onto the loose puck and skated in to place it in the open net, giving Chicago the 1-0 lead.
Chicago nearly doubled their lead 10 minutes later when Brad Richards played a bouncing puck across the face of goal, but it leapt over Patrick Kane’s stick as he went to backhand past Bishop who was still scrambling to cover his back post.
The Blackhawks ended the first with a commanding 14-5 advantage in shots.
A see-saw second frame was taken by the Lightning.
Chances were few and far between until played a puck to the back post of Crawford from the top-left. Duncan Keith missed a clearance opportunity before Valtteri Filppula leveled for the Lightning.
But just two minutes into the third the Hawks regained the advantage, when Kris Versteeg laid on for Antoine Vermette who beat Bishop for the game-winner, his second in the series.
Tampa Bay pulled their goalie with a minute left but were whistled for too many men on the ice with less than 10 seconds remaining.
Crawford finished with 31 saves. Bishop had 27.
The Blackhawks will have a chance to close out the series in Chicago on Monday night.