Blackhawks' late Game 1 surge will haunt Lightning

Lightning Perspective: Loss hits Tampa hard

                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  • Chicago Blackhawks fans cheer as Tampa Bay Lightning players head to the locker room following the Bolts 2-1 loss in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals. Chicago Blackhawks fans cheer as Tampa Bay Lightning players head to the locker room following the Bolts 2-1 loss in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals.

    Chicago Blackhawks fans cheer as Tampa Bay Lightning players head to the locker room following the Bolts 2-1 loss in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals. Chicago Blackhawks fans cheer as Tampa Bay Lightning players head to the locker room following the Bolts 2-1 loss in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals. JASON BEHNKEN/Tampa Tribune

 
 
Updated 6/4/2015 12:50 AM

TAMPA -- And so it's a hole.

A shocking one.

 

Late lightning, but not for the Lightning.

Hey, maybe experience does matter.

The Chicago Blackhawks helped make it matter in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final, and shocked the Lightning 2-1 with two goals in two minutes with less than seven minutes left at Amalie Arena.

A flying start for the Lightning, a 1-0 lead for most of the night after Alex Killorn's early, amazing goal, that backhander out of midair.

A lot of aggressive defense at first, and discipline, cutting off passing lanes, 40 minutes of great work.

Then, out of midair, a loss.

A crusher -- the Lightning's first loss this postseason when leading after two periods.

But simply not enough pressure from the home team at Amalie Arena, too much prevent defense, not enough offense to finish off the Blackhawks -- and you have to finish off these Blackhawks or they'll come back to haunt you, as they've done again and again to lift the Cup twice in the last five seasons.

Consider the Lightning haunted.

"We just let a team stick around that is experience in these situations that probably knew that if they could keep it at one would have a chance at the end," Lightning captain Steve Stamkos said. "We just got away from playing smart defensive hockey but keeping pressure on them."

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And it wasn't Jonathan Toews or Patrick Kane for the win. It wasn't Patrick Sharp, Duncan Keith or Marian Hossa.

It was Teuvo Teravainen and Antoine Vermette.

Repeating: Oh, never mind.

A quiet night for Blackhawks stars -- and the Lightning still lose.

Consider them haunted.

"We didn't put them away," Lightning coach Jon Cooper said.

They let Chicago hang around. The Lightning began watching the scoreboard, began protecting instead of attacking. And they couldn't finish again against Hawks goaltender Corey Crawford, not Steve Stamkos on two great chances late in the second period, one point blank, not Ryan Callahan on a breakaway early in the third period. Throw in a deathly quiet night from the Triplets, two shots all night. Just five shots from the Bolts in the third period, 23 all night. The Hawks only had a playoff-low 21. But they stayed patient, kept coming. The Bolts kept backing up, the Hawks kept chipping it in.

Then: A long shot from winger Teravainen shot to beat Ben Bishop through a screen. Lightning forward Val Filppula, no defenseman he, couldn't box out or move Marcus Kruger from in front of Bishop, who never saw the puck. It was tied 1-1.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Then an ghastly turnover after the Lightning iced the puck. J.T. Brown took a pass from Victor Hedman. That man Teravainen got a stick on it, the puck skittered to the slot, where Vermette fired it past Bishop. Brown can't be cutting across the middle of the ice in that instance, he just can't. Turnover. Shot. Goal. 4:34 left. Game.

"We just sat back a little too much," Stamkos said. "We still didn't give them much. A seeing eye puck (for a goal) and a turnover for us in the middle of the ice and they pounce on it."

This is a kick in the gut. The Bolts had a great chance to lay down a win at Amalie Arena, where they were best home team in hockey during the season, but a ragged 5-5 going into Game 1. More bad news: The Blackhawks are 7-1 in Chicago in this postseason. They're also 9-2 in one-goal games. The Lightning fell to 4-4.

The Blackhawks will finish you if you don't beat them to it.

The Lightning didn't.

And there went Game 1.

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