The youthful Tampa Bay Lightning are an exercise in learning real-life hockey lessons this postseason. If they make a mistake one game, they hardly make it again the rest of the playoffs. Coach Jon Cooper often references how Tampa's too young to know any better.
In Game 1, of the Stanley Cup Final, the Blackhawks took a lead off two quick goals in the third period and Tampa couldn’t adjust. In Game 2, the Hawks again scored two quick ones (this time in the second), but the Lightning didn’t crash. Chicago tied the game in the third period but the Lightning never lost composure. Instead it zapped Chicago 4-3 at Amalie Arena to tie the Final at 1-1.
"I've said this many times, this team, we're learning the Stanley Cup Playoffs on the job. I think what happened to us the other night was a lesson learned," Cooper said. "It's the first time that it happened to us in the playoffs. So what are we going to do about that? Put in that position again, what do you do? That position happened midway through the game when we had the 1-0 lead. There go the two quick goals, it's 2-1. Our guys wouldn't be denied."
Not only did Tampa have to overcome a resilient Blackhawks team, Tampa starter Ben Bishop seemed to have some sort of third period issue and eventually left the game in the final 10 minutes for 20-year-old uber-talented backup Andrei Vasilevskiy.
He was cool and calm, making five saves on five Chicago shots on goal. Cooper would not answer questions about what happened to Bishop following the game.
"The one thing about Vasilevskiy -- I know we have two unbelievably capable goaltenders. When Bish had to leave, there wasn't an ounce of stress on anybody on our bench, including myself," he said. "I mean, the kid proved it when he went in. He was great."
Game 3 is Monday at United Center.
With 11:11 left in the third Tampa’s Jason Garrison completed rifled a shot past Corey Crawford to put the game at 4-3 in favor of Tampa. This was a power play score that came on the second straight penalty by Chicago forward Patrick Sharp.
Just 3:38 into the third period, the Blackhawks tied the game at 3-3 thanks to a slap shot by defenseman Brent Seabrook.
Tyler Johnson’s goal at the 13:58 mark put the game at 3-2 for the Lightning and looked just horrible for Crawford. It came off a bed angle and snuck through the netminder. Just look at that. Gooo!
After the game, Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said Crawford was "Just OK." Not exactly major praise there.
Nikita Kucherov knotted the game at 2-2 as in a deflection at the 6:52 mark of the second. It was beautiful stick work by Kucherov off yet another point blast by Garrison, who has an absolute bomb of a shot.
Just before then, Chicago appeared prime to take over the contest. Tampa was back in a defensive rope-a-dope after scoring the first goal, and the Blackhawks capitalized.
Teuvo Teravainen put the game at 2-1 in favor of Chicago at the 5:20 mark of the second on the power play. He fired a wrist shot past Bishop and just 3:04 into the second period, Chicago forward Andrew Shaw scored off a rebound to put the game at 1-1.
"We get to go home, get excited, play in our building. I'm sure everybody will be loud and excited about us coming back," Quenneville said. We were tied in the third period, had the right spot for tonight. But didn't go our way."
Cedric Paquette struck first for the Lightning at the 12:56 mark of the first period. J.T. Brown was screening Crawford in front of the net. Twas a nice wrist shot indeed and came off some poor play in front of the net by Chicago depth defenseman Kyle Cumiskey.
The Lightning inserted rookie forward Jonathan Drouin into the lineup to try to help some offense. Drouin, the No. 3 pick in the 2013 draft, hadn’t played since May 7.
- - - - - - -
MORE FROM YAHOO HOCKEY