2015 Stanley Cup Final Game 2 recap: Lightning tie series with 4-3 win

After fighting off an early case of deja vu (getting a 1-0 lead before finding themselves down 2-1), the Tampa Bay Lightning go on to a 4-3 win over the Chicago Blackhawks in a thrilling back-and-forth Game 2 of the 2015 Stanley Cup Final, tying the best-of-seven series at a game apiece.

The Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Chicago Blackhawks 4-3 at Amalie Arena in Tampa Saturday night, to tie the 2015 Stanley Cup Final at a game each.

Up and down, back and forth, two conference champions challenged each other all night long with the Tampa Bay Lightning coming out on top this time.

There were quite a few similarities between this one and Game 1 on Wednesday. From the start, the Lightning came out strong and established the pace and tempo. This time, however, the Blackhawks were not overwhelmed and stayed with the Lightning, as evidenced by the fact that the shot differential was a mere 12-11 edge for the Lightning, heading into the first intermission.

The Bolts got good looks in flurries around the net, generating more scoring chances early in the first period than they did all of Game 1. Blackhawks netminder Cory Crawford was the difference early on, denying the Lightning any good second chances.

The Lightning got the much-coveted first goal of the game when Cedric Paquette scored at 12:56. The goal was originally credited as unassisted but helpers were later assigned to Ryan Callahan and Victor Hedman.

Just like Game 1, the period ended with the Lightning up 1-0.

Deja vu set in early in the second when Chicago tied the game at 3:04 on a goal by Andrew Shaw. At the time assists were credited to Andrew Desjardins and Johnny Oduya, but Oduya's was later credited to Marcus Kruger.

A little over two minutes later, very similar to what happened in the third period in Game 1, the Blackhawks took the lead on a goal from Teuvo Teravainen at 5:20. Marian Hossa and Patrick Sharp chipped in with help. Unlike Game 1, however, there was lots of time remaining.

Opting not to waste any of that time, Nikita Kucherov answered on behalf of the Lightning less than two minutes later, scoring at 6:52. Jason Garrison and Braydon Coburn offered assistance on the play.

Tyler Johnson scored at 13:58 to retake the lead for the Lightning. He was assisted by Kucherov.

Once again, just like Game 1, the Lightning took a one-goal lead into the final period, this time up 3-2.

During the first period the two teams shared a 50% success rate in faceoffs, but in the second and third periods, Chicago owned a decisive edge, winning 74% in the second and 71% in the third. This, combined with Chicago pressing resulted in the Lightning mustering only two shots in the third.

At 3:38 of the third, Brent Seabrook tied the game for the Blackhawks, receiving the benefit of what certainly looked like could have easily been called goalie interference on Marian Hossa. It wasn't and Patrick Sharp and David Rundblad picked up assists on the play.

Around the nine minute mark, Lightning starting goaltender Ben Bishop left the game and was replaced by Andrei Vasilevskiy.

The Lightning, on the second of back-to-back power plays, took the lead again at 8:49, with Jason Garrison netting the eventual game winner with helpers coming from Hedman and Callahan.

Afterward, Bishop returned to the game briefly, only to leave again, Vasilevskiy would pick up the win, turning away all five shots he faced in 9:31 total combined ice time. For his part, Bishop stopped 21 of the 24 shots that came his way in the other 50:31.

For those wondering what was/is going on with Bishop, unfortunately there is no news available at this time. He wasn't available to the media post game because he was "receiving treatment" and coach Cooper refused to even address the matter.

"All right, before we get going, and I hate to be that guy, and I know I talk way too much when I'm up here, I will not answer questions about the goaltending and what happened tonight. I apologize for that." - Cooper's opening remark at his post game press conference,

Okay then. The matter is now open to baseless speculation, but that's really not what we do here at Raw Charge so we're going to leave that alone for now. Make no mistake, it's the story for the Lightning as the series moves forward until the team issues official communication that renders it not.

Going back to what happened on the ice Saturday night, the Blackhawks pulled their goalie for an extra attacker with about 2:00 remaining but were unable to score the equalizer.

The series is now tied at one apiece and will move to Chicago for Games 3 and 4, with Game 3 scheduled for Monday night.

Game notes:

  • Jonathan Drouin made his first appearance in the 2015 NHL Final. Vladislav Namestnikov was scratched.
  • Vasilevskiy is the first goalie to win his first postseason game in relief in a Stanley Cup Final game since 1928.
  • Johnson now holds sole possession of the Lightning franchise record for goals scored during a postseason. He breaks a tie that he held with former Bolts Ruslan Fedotenko and Brad Richards
  • This was the tenth game the Lightning have won when scoring first in this postseason, in which they are now 10-1 under those circumstances.
  • The Lightning are now 4-0 in Game 2's during the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
  • Tampa Bay's power play has now scored in eight of their last 13 games, going 15 for 43 (35%) over that stretch.
  • The Tampa Bay Lightning honored Phil Esposito as the 53rd Lightning Community Hero of the season during the first period of tonight's game. Esposito, who received a $100,000 donation from the Lightning Foundation and the Lightning Community Heroes program, will donate the money to the Wounded Warrior Project and youth and amateur hockey programming in the Tampa Bay region. The Lightning legacy can be traced back to Esposito, one of the NHL's most prolific goal-scorers and NHL Hall of Famer, who 23 years ago believed that hockey could succeed in the city of Tampa. His efforts as co-founder helped Tampa win the vote of a permanent franchise by the National Hockey League's Board of Governors on December 20, 1991, which is the beginning era of the Tampa Bay Lightning. It is because of the seed Esposito planted that the Tampa Bay Lightning organization continues to embody and have a significant impact on the city of Tampa by bringing fans together, giving back to the community, stimulating economic activity in the Tampa Bay region, and soon undertaking a major urban development.