In what was a closely contested affair, the Hawks were able to capitalize on a couple of major mistakes by the Tampa Bay Lightning in order to grab the 2-1 win on the road, their second consecutive victory of that score. Oddly enough, though, this felt like one of those games where you just knew the Hawks were going to come out on top, regardless of the final score.
Despite some chaos in their own end, the opening frame was a period that heavily favored the Blackhawks, both in terms of attempts and actual shots. The Hawks finished the period with 14 shots against just five for the Bolts. Their attempted shots were almost twice as high, with a Corsi figure of 26, a far cry from where they were in Game 4 when they finished with just a pair of shots. The Lightning finished with a Corsi of 14.
The lone goal in the opening period came off the stick of Patrick Sharp, who has had a relatively quiet playoff run. Without a goaltender in the net, though, he was able to make things happen. Ben Bishop came way out of his net to clear the puck, but collided with Victor Hedman, rendering himself immobile. Sharp picked up the failed clear and put it into the empty net to give the Blackhawks the 1-0 edge, which they carried on into the middle stanza.
Perhaps somewhat predictably, the Lightning were able to strike back (curiously enough, no pun attended) in the second period. They held a 21-18 Corsi advantage over the Hawks, with a 12-8 shot advantage. The equalizer came courtesy of Valtteri Filppula off a sweet feed from Jason Garrison. Unfortunately, it was likely something that could have been prevented, as the Hawks were unable to clear the zone and avoid turnovers in their own end on that particular sequence. Nonetheless, they did create some pressure at the tail end of the frame that allowed them to take some momentum into the intermission.
Unfortunately for the Hawks, though, it was the Lightning who carried the momentum into the final stanza of this one. Much of that has to do with score effects, though, given that the Hawks were able to tally early in the period. That score came off of a rush from the line of Kris Versteeg, Antoine Vermette, and Teuvo Teravainen. Versteeg made the play to carry the puck in, tried to get a pass across the crease, but it deflected off the pad of Bishop. Teuvo skated on by it, but Vermette was able to put it home to give the Hawks the 2-1 edge.
At that point, they went back into their typical defensive mode. The Lightning dominated shot attempts in the period, at 26-12, with 15 shots for the period to the Hawks' seven. But Corey Crawford was up to the task. The Hawks did a solid job of getting the puck away from the crease area, while Crawford was able to handle everything that Tampa threw at him, finishing with 31 saves on 32 shots for the evening.
A couple of observations:
- Kimmo Timonen played a real solid game. He's still moving at a glacial pace, but led the Hawks with a CF% of 71.
- Kris Versteeg has played a real sound game in these Stanley Cup Finals. He's been aggressive, but has played smart. Love to see that.
- Andrew Shaw has played exceptional hockey as a fourth line wing. Amazing what happens when he's where he's supposed to be (more on this tomorrow).
- Patrick Kane has been unbelievably quiet, but credit Victor Hedman for that. He's done an exceptional job of keeping the Hawks star silent in the series.
- Good to see Patrick Sharp find the back of the net, even if there wasn't a goaltender.
- Corey Crawford. What else can you say? He was up to the task again.