By Jon Fromi
The Chicago Blackhawks stunned the full house at Amalie Arena in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final Wednesday night. The host Tampa Bay Lightning came out smoking and led for the bulk of the game. However, a pair of late Chicago goals shocked the Lightning, who fell to the Blackhawks 2-1.
Teuvo Teravainen was the catalyst for the third-period comeback, scoring the tying goal and creating the chance for the game-winner with a strong back check. Corey Crawford was outstanding in net, keeping Chicago close until the Hawks could strike behind the heroics of Teravainen.
First Period-The Hawks iced the puck shortly after the opening faceoff. Tampa Bay took advantage, going on the attack. By the time Chicago was called for another icing early in the fourth minute, the Lightning had four shots on net.
The furious Tampa Bay activity resulted in the game’s first goal soon after. Anton Stralman tossed the puck towards the end boards in a pretty non-threatening manner. However, Alex Killorn reached out and made an incredible redirect that sent the biscuit bouncing between the right post and the pad of Crawford. The Lightning held a 1-0 advantage at the 4:31 mark.
Andrew Shaw tripped Ondrej Palat 6:14 into the period to put the Lightning on the power play. Chicago wasn’t able to clear the puck for much of the next two minutes but kept it out of its net. Tampa Bay kept the heat on at the Blackhawks end. Crawford had to come out and cover a loose puck after Niklas Hjalmarsson broke a stick in his own zone in the tenth minute.
Brandon Saad drove around the Lightning net and back out to the slot for a shot attempt on Ben Bishop, giving some brief offensive spark in the 11th minute. Tampa responded with a sneaky shot by Cedric Paquette that Crawford gloved.
Chicago began to tilt the ice the other way in the last five minutes of the period. The Blackhawks got a power play when Jason Garrison cross-checked Marcus Kruger with 3:12 remaining. Kane had a decent look from the right circle that Bishop stopped. A scrum formed behind the Tampa Bay net when Victor Hedman took a shot at Kane and Shaw took offense.
Marian Hossa fed Teravainen in the slot. Teravainen knocked down the pass but couldn’t get off a shot. The man advantage expired; soon after the teams went to their locker rooms with the Lightning up 1-0.
Second Period-Killorn caught Saad with his stick 28 seconds into the middle frame. Chicago set up a couple of times but came up empty.
Valtteri Filppula threw a shot on goal that rebounded into the slot but was cleared without incident. Steven Stamkos took a pass from Filppula a few seconds later and got off a shot from the left circle that Crawford was able to fight off. However, the Blackhawks were able to move more action into the Lightning zone that in the first 20 minutes.
Kane swooped around the net to collect a pass to open ice by Jonathan Toews but the shot hit the side of the net in the ninth minute. At 9:48, Tampa Bay was whistled for too many men and the Hawks were up a man for the third time in the contest. Chicago had less success gaining entry into the Lightning zone and was turned away, though Hossa got off a laser from the slot that was just off the mark.
Kris Versteeg chased down a loose puck into the Tampa Bay zone and won control of it from Stralman. In his move to the net, he fell into Bishop and smashed head-first into the right post. Versteeg was called for goaltender interference 13:28 into the period but the Hawks killed the infraction.
Versteeg and Brad Richards were joined by Kane on the next even strength shift and Tampa Bay had to turn away a couple of prime scoring chances. Following a takeaway, Versteeg nearly got the puck to Kane at the right post but the play was broken up by Palat. Richards was stopped by the Lightning goalie seconds later.
Crawford stopped a tipped puck with 3:12 left in the period at the other end of the ice. With 1:50 to play, he came out to stop Stamkos. Following a Lightning faceoff win in the offensive zone, Crawford denied Stamkos again from the right post.
The action was back and forth in the last minute of the period. When the smoke cleared, the Hawks remained down 1-0 heading into the second intermission.
Third Period-Teravainen got off the first shot of the period three minutes in. Antoine Vermette couldn’t handle the rebound but Chicago kept the pressure on in the first five minutes.
Hossa snuck into the Tampa Bay zone to nab a pass from Richards and get off a shot from the right dot in the eighth minute. Bishop caught the attempt, however. Teravainen found himself at the left circle with the puck on his stick but went for the pass, which was broken up.
Brent Seabrook came down the right side on an odd man rush and fired a shot that was knocked away by Bishop. Crawford then stopped a breakaway by Ryan Callahan coming back the other way.
With 6:32 left, Duncan Keith collected the puck along the left half boards and hit Teravainen at the top of the left circle. Aided by a screen by Kruger, Teravainen’s shot found the space over Bishop’s shoulder and into the net for the equalizer.
Less than two minutes later, Teravainen got a stick on a loose puck just ahead of J.T. Brown and managed to knock it to Vermette in the slot. Sending the wrister over the glove of Bishop and off the right post, rubber united with twine. Vermette gave Chicago a 2-1 lead with 4:34 remaining in the game.
Crawford took it from there, knocking away a Killorn attempt with 2:16 to go and making a nice pad save on a Stamkos shot with 1:37 left. Bishop went to the bench with 1:20 remaining. The Hawks got the puck out of their zone in the final 20 seconds. Toews couldn’t find the empty net but the clock ran out on the Lightning before they could mount a final rush.
Three Stars-Hedman (third), Crawford (second), Teravainen (first).
-The opening 15 minutes played out like a Hawks fan’s nightmare. Everything that is scary about the Lightning offense was on display as they absolutely dominated Chicago in that span. To weather that opening salvo, stay the course and score twice to win, the Blackhawks dealt a stomach punch to Tampa Bay.
-If the Hawks had dropped Game 1, you could make the argument that Chicago survived a monster opening by the Lightning and played pretty well for most of the last two periods. Losing this game wouldn’t have had been as hard to put behind the Blackhawks as it may be for Tampa Bay.
-The key stop was obviously Crow’s denial of the Callahan breakaway. However, Crawford coming out to take away the angle from Stamkos in the middle stanza was equally important. In response to many giving the edge to Bishop in net, Crawford (who stopped 22 of 23 shots) was absolutely the man in Game 1.
-The only shot that beat Crawford came on one of the most miraculous redirects I’ve ever seen. You just have to tip your cap to Killorn on that one.
-NBC had Crawford as the game’s first star, with Teravainen second. I’m going with the box score, though this is definitely a 1 and 1A situation. Both players were instrumental in the victory.
-Bryan Bickell, who was a go for Game 1 according to coach Joel Quenneville earlier this week, was a scratch Wednesday in favor of new father Versteeg. Quenneville announced after the game that Bickell is now day-to-day with an upper-body injury.
-The fearsome foursome that is the Blackhawks defense was at the top of their collective game. It’s a foursome in large part because Kyle Cumiskey and David Rundblad skated a combined 12:23 on the evening.
-The Blackhawks have two days to rest up and go for a sweep in Tampa Bay. Saturday’s Game 2. The puck drops at 6:15 p.m. Chicago time.