Lightning beat Blackhawks in bizarre, back and forth Game 2, even Cup final

TAMPA, Fla. — Game 2 of the Stanley Cup finals had everything, from a premature goal horn to a controversial missed interference and a mysterious goaltending change.

The Lightning overcame a goal that shouldn’t have counted and the absence of Ben Bishop to beat the Chicago Blackhawks 4-3 Saturday night at Amalie Arena to even the best-of-seven series at a game apiece.

Rookie Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy was perfect in relief, stopping all five shots he faced in the third period. Jason Garrison scored the winner.

“Nervous? A little bit,” said Vasilevskiy. 

Cedric Paquette, Nikita Kucherov and Tyler Johnson also scored for Tampa Bay, which remained undefeated in Game 2 of a series. Bishop’s status was not immediately available.

“The kid is a great goalie. He was ready to play,” said Paquette of Vasilevskiy. “We were calm. We were confident in ourselves.”

Andrew Shaw, Teuvo Teravainen and Brent Seabrook scored for the Blackhawks. Seabrook’s goal should not have counted because of interference by Marian Hossa on Bishop, but video review was not available.

Corey Crawford made 20 saves in the loss.

“We get to go home, excited, play in our building. I’m sure everyone will be loud and excited about us coming back,” Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said. “We’ll be all right.”

Paquette opened the scoring with a snipe at 12:56 of the first — dangling around Brandon Saad and firing a perfect shot past Crawford.

Tampa Bay started the playoffs 9-0 when scoring first, a streak the Blackhawks snapped in Game 1.

The lead lasted until Shaw scored 3:04 into the second. Andrew Desjardins’ shot hit Marcus Kruger in front, and with the puck laying in the crease, Shaw tapped it home for the tying goal.

With Alex Killorn in the penalty box for hooking Brad Richards, the Blackhawks took the lead 5:20 into the second period on more Teuvo Time magic. Teravainen orchestrated a give-and-go with Patrick Sharp at the point and then Hossa down low and finished it with his second of the series.

It didn’t take long for the Lightning to strike back 6:52 into the second on a strong cycle shift. After one scoring chance at the net, Garrison shot the puck from the point, and Kucherov made a back-handed deflection to tie it at two.

Crawford cracked 13:58 into the second on Johnson’s goal. Johnson put the puck on net and whacked away at it, putting it between Crawford’s right skate and the post.

Johnson’s goal was his first in six games but 13th of the playoffs. That’s a new Lightning franchise record, surpassing Richards and Ruslan Fedotenko from the 2004 Cup team.

The Conn Smythe candidate’s status to play in Game 2 was in doubt with an undisclosed injury. Johnson said Saturday morning he was fine and would play.

Chicago stars Jonathan Toews was held to one shot and Patrick Kane had no shots through two periods, which led coach Joel Quenneville to break them up to start the third. At the 3:38 mark, Toews was part of the most controversial moment of the night.

Toews fed Seabrook for a shot from the point that went in at 3:38, but Hossa moved Bishop’s left pad with his stick. Bishop was incensed, but video review does not yet include goaltender interference.

If approved by the NHL Players’ Association and board of governors, coaches will be able to challenge goals like that beginning next season.

Bishop abruptly left the game 7:17 into the third and was replaced by Vasilevskiy.

At the other end, the Lightning got a goal back. On the power play, Garrison fired away from the point and got it through traffic for the go-ahead goal 8:49 into the third.

Bishop returned at that point but left again at 12:19. Vasilevskiy finished the game and picked up the victory.

Notes — Jonathan Drouin saw his first action since Game 4 of the Montreal series, playing on the fourth line. Tampa Bay went with 12 forwards and six defencemen, scratching Nikita Nesterov. … Bryan Bickell was again a scratch for Chicago with an upper-body injury.

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Stephen Whyno, The Canadian Press