LIGHT­NING EVENS CUP FI­NAL

Tampa Bay goalie Vasilevskiy calmly comes in with­out warn­ing for Bishop.

Los Angeles Times - - SPORTS - HE­LENE EL­LIOTT he­lene.el­liott@la­times.com

TAMPA, Fla.— Goals and goal­tend­ing changes came at a dizzy­ing pace Satur­day, a bizarre turn of events that raised as many ques­tions as were an­swered af­ter the Tampa Bay Light­ning de­feated the Chicago Black­hawks, 4-3, to tie the Stan­ley Cup Fi­nal at one game each.

First, Ben Bishop was in net for Tampa Bay and then he wasn’t, leav­ing at 7:17 of the third pe­riod and again at12:19 for rea­sons that re­main un­ex­plained. Dur­ing rookie An­drei Vasilevskiy’s first re­lief stint of 92 sec­onds, Light­ning de­fense­man Ja­son Gar­ri­son’s shot de­flected off Chicago for­ward An­drew Des­jardins and past Corey Craw­ford for what held up as the win­ning goal.

“It is strange,” Light­ning for­ward Ryan Cal­la­han said with a smile, “but he came in and he showed that char­ac­ter and that poise.”

Light­ning Coach Jon Cooper de­clined to an­swer ques­tions about Bishop, and a team spokesman said the goalie was get­ting treat­ment and no med­i­cal report had been re­leased.

While his team­mates learned about the changes through pub­lic ad­dress an­nounce­ments at Amalie Arena, Vasilevskiy re­mained ad­mirably calm. The 20-year-old Rus­sian came in with­out warn­ing to face a power play and over­all stopped five shots in 9 min­utes13 sec­onds, pre­vent­ing the Black­hawks from tak­ing com­mand of the Fi­nal be­fore the se­ries re­sumes Monday in Chicago.

“Ev­ery game I’m just ready and if Coach tells me to go in, I go in. That’s it,” said Vasilevskiy, cho­sen 19th by Tampa Bay in the 2012 en­try draft.

“Ner­vous? Just maybe a lit­tle bit but af­ter the first cou­ple shots, I feel my­self bet­ter. Ev­ery game I’m ready and I keep my head ready for the game­and that’s it.”

Ac­cord­ing to the Elias Sports Bu­reau, Vasilevskiy be­came the first goalie to win his first ca­reer play­off gamein re­lief in the Cup Fi­nal since1928, when New York Rangers Coach Lester Pa­trick played goal and de­feated the Mon­treal Ma­roons. Healso be­came the first goalie to earn a Cup Fi­nal win in re­lief since Pitts­burgh’s Frank Pi­etrangelo on May 23,1991, against the Min­ne­sota North Stars.

Light­ning play­ers and coaches prob­a­bly didn’t knowthat. But they knew he prob­a­bly saved their sea­son.

“When Bish had to leave, there wasn’t an ounce of stress on any­body on our bench, in­clud­ing my­self,” Cooper said. “The kid proved it when hewent in. Hewas great.”

It helped the Light­ning that Craw­ford wasn’t great at the other end. “Just OK,” Coach Joel Quen­neville said, con­demn­ing with faint praise.

Craw­ford agreed, lament­ing the Nikita Kucherov goal that tied the game at 2-2 at 6:52 of the sec­ond pe­riod and the Tyler John­son goal that gave Tampa Bay a 3-2 lead at13:58 of the sec­ond pe­riod.

Kucherov’s goal­was a re­di­rect­ion and John­son’s went off Craw­ford’s back af­ter he failed to poke-check the puck away from John­son, who has a play­of­flead­ing13 goals.

“As a goalie, when you give up two goals that maybe shouldn’t go in at this point of the sea­son, it’s pretty frus­trat­ing,” Craw­ford said. “I felt good. Iwas see­ing the puck well. Some funky plays that went in. I’ve just got to be bet­ter.”

Tampa Bay scored the only goal of the first pe­riod, by Cedric Pa­que­tte through a screen, but Chicago took the lead on a re­bound by An­drew Shaw and a pow­er­play goal by Teuvo Ter­a­vainen.

Tampa Bay ral­lied to go up 3-2, but the Black­hawks matched that on Brent Seabrook’s long shot, with Mar­ian Hossa ap­pear­ing to im­pede Bishop by putting his stick on the goalie’s pad. Two penal­ties in less than three min­utes by Pa­trick Sharp set up Gar­ri­son’s power-play win­ner at 8:49 of the third.

Teams that won Game 2 have gone on to win the Cup 56 of 75 times (74.7%) since the Fi­nal went to a best-of­seven for­mat in1939, in­clud­ing nine of the last12 oc­ca­sions. Vasilevskiy prob­a­bly didn’t knowthat ei­ther, but he knew he had to stop the puck and did it con­fi­dently.

“I just feel my­self happy,” said Vasilevskiy, who had ap­peared in re­lief once against Mon­treal and once against the Rangers in the East fi­nal. “That’s it. Our arena was un­be­liev­able and Iwas just happy.”

Bruce Ben­nett As­so­ci­ated Press

LIGHT­NING’S J.T. Brown, left, watches as Cedric Pa­que­tte’s shot goes by Black­hawks’ Corey Craw­ford.

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