TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Two goalies taking turns in the crease in the third period. A low-scoring defenseman getting the biggest goal of all.
The Tampa Bay Lightning found some strange ways to even the Stanley Cup Final.
Jason Garrison scored the tiebreaking power-play goal with 11:11 to play, rookie goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy relieved Ben Bishop twice to earn the victory, and the Lightning beat the Chicago Blackhawks 4-3 in Game 2 on Saturday night to even the series.
Nikita Kucherov had a goal and an assist for the Lightning, who played with all the aggression they lacked in the third period of Game 1 when Chicago rallied late to win.
Tyler Johnson and Cedric Paquette also scored for Tampa Bay, which curiously made three goalie changes in the third period. The 20-year-old Vasilevskiy twice replaced starter Ben Bishop and made five saves in 9:13 to earn his first NHL playoff win.
Game 3 is Monday night in Chicago.
Vasilevskiy has 16 regular-season games of NHL experience, and he had played in just two games since March 31. But the Russian came in for 92 seconds before Garrison scored the go-ahead goal, and he returned to finish the game with 7:41 to play, earning the victory.
The Lightning didn’t say why Bishop left the game, came back and left again. He complained of interference on Brent Seabrook’s tying goal early in the third period, but played on.
Andrew Shaw and Teuvo Teravainen scored 2:16 apart early in the second period for the Blackhawks, who couldn’t follow up their Game 1 comeback with another.
Just over five minutes after Seabrook scored, Garrison put the Lightning ahead when his shot apparently deflected off a Chicago player in front of Corey Crawford, who stopped 20 shots in an uninspiring effort. The goal was just Garrison’s second of the postseason.
With his jarring No. 88 jersey and 45 previous minutes of NHL playoff experience, Vasilevskiy handled his surprise assignment splendidly. He made an outstanding pad save with less than five minutes to play as Tampa Bay killed a penalty, and he stayed strong wrapped up the victory.
The Lightning again showed off the resilience that got them to this lofty height, improving to 4-0 in Game 2 of their four postseason series after going 1-3 in Game 1. Tampa Bay has lost two straight games only once in the entire playoffs.
The Stanley Cup Final’s first two games were split for just the second time since 2004.
The Lightning blamed their 2-1 loss in the opener on too much caution in the third period, when Chicago scored two late goals to win. Neither team showed any particular caution from the start of Game 2, skating aggressively and working hard for offensive chances.
Paquette put a long shot through heavy traffic late in the first period for his first goal since April 27, ending a 13-game drought.
Shaw made his biggest impact on Game 1 when he apparently bit Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman, but the aggressive forward affected Game 2 early in the second by getting in front of Bishop and outfighting Garrison for a loose puck.
During a power play moments later, Teravainen executed a give-and-go with Marian Hossa for his third goal in two games. The 20-year-old Teravainen scored the tying goal and assisted on Antoine Vermette’s winner 1:58 apart in Chicago’s Game 1 victory.
The Lightning swiftly tied it up on a back-to-the-net, between-his-own-legs deflection by Kucherov, the gifted Russian who scored 29 goals in the regular season.
Johnson then ended his five-game goal drought with his NHL-leading 13th goal of the postseason. Crawford probably should have saved the backhand by Johnson, but it slid across his sweater and dropped in for Johnson’s first goal since Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals.
Seabrook evened it with 16:22 left in the third, teeing up a hard shot with no opposition after the Tampa Bay defense got distracted by captain Jonathan Toews. Bishop claimed Hossa interfered with him on top of his crease, but the goal stood.
NOTES: Jonathan Drouin, the No. 3 pick in the 2013 draft, returned to Tampa Bay’s lineup for the first time since Game 4 of the second-round series against Montreal on May 7. Nikita Nesterov was scratched. … Chicago’s Bryan Bickell sat out his second straight game after getting hurt in Game 7 of the conference finals in Anaheim last weekend. The Blackhawks haven’t disclosed the nature of Bickell’s injury, but the forward said he passed the league’s concussion tests. … Chicago’s Joel Quenneville coached his 200th playoff game. … Blackhawks D Niklas Hjalmarsson turned 28 years old.
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