The series is ties 1-1 going into Chicago for the first Stanley Cup playoff game that will played in the rowdy United center. If Game 1 and were any indictation, game 3 should be a doozy, which so far has seen close 1 goal games that had many lead changes as plot twists. The Tampa Bay Lightning hung on to beat the Chicago Blackhawks in a crazy Game 2 that saw Lightning starting goaltender, Ben Bishop exit the game, twice.
Lucky for Tampa they had an exciting and young, 20-year-old Russian goaltender ready to play back up; Andrei Vasilevskiy made 5 key saves to seal the win for the Lightning on Saturday night. It kept Tampa out of the nightmare scenario of falling into a 0-2 hole going to Chicago. But in tonight’s pivotal Game 3, no one knows if Vasilevskiy will continue or if Bishop will be back to dominate in net.
Vasilevskiy made his strange appearance for a total of 5:41 minutes in net, total. “Every game I’m just ready and if Coach tell me to go in, I go in. That’s it,” he told media postgame.
Lightning coach Jon Cooper and Bishop have been mum on the topic of who plays in Game 3, so media and fans have no clue if their star goaltender is really injured or not, and if he will play again.
Cooper refused to answer any questions about the goalie situation after the game, leaving that a mystery until pre-game. “I’ve said this many times, this team is learning the Stanley Cup playoffs on the job,” Cooper said. “I think what happened to us the other night was a lesson learned.”
The lesson he spoke about was how to avoid being passive, which against Chicago, will get you killed. Tampa who had the lead again, was overtaken by a quick one-two punch again on Saturday. Luckily for them, the outcome was different. “Our guys wouldn’t be denied,” said Cooper. “There was a fire on that bench when that happened. It wasn’t panic, it was pissed, and you gotta love that in your team.”
The Lightning had the lead, so they know what it feels like when they ease up, and stop being aggressive. They know now they have to keep forcing the play. And they need to play desperate hockey, because playing it safe against Chicago doesn’t work, and being the visiting team they know they have to steal a game.
There were many momentum changes. Nikita Kucherov tied the game with six minutes left in the second period then Tyler Johnson beat Crawford with a wrist shot from a terrible angle. Tampa Bay took the 3-2 lead into the third, repeating another scenario like Game 1: having a one-goal lead with 20 minutes to play.
“We were upset the way Game 1 played out,” said Johnson earlier on Saturday. “We felt we played good for the majority of the game, but we didn’t play a full 60 minutes, and if you don’t play a full 60 minutes against a good team like Chicago it’s going to burn you.”
Can the Lightning strike twice in a row? Or will they get burned? We think they have a chance to suprise, even with a back up goaltender in tow.
Our Pick: Lightning win over Blackhawks