As one would expect after a split, the Blackhawks are taking their share of positives and negatives with them after Saturday's 4-3 loss in Game 2.
For the good:
The Blackhawks ultimately got what they wanted in Tampa -- a victory. The Blackhawks snatched home-ice advantage from the Lightning by taking Game 1. The Blackhawks also split their first two road games against the Nashville Predators in the first round and against the Anaheim Ducks in the Western Conference finals. To take the series, the Lightning will have to win at least once at the United Center, where the Blackhawks are 7-1 this postseason.
“We get to go home, get excited, play in our building,” Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. “I'm sure everybody will be loud and excited about us coming back. We were tied in the third period, had the right spot for tonight, but didn't go our way. We'll be all right. We should be excited about what happened at the end of the game.”
Blackhawks rookie Teuvo Teravainen has become a consistent scoring threat. He followed his one-goal, one-assist performance in Game 1 with another goal in Game 2. Since being a healthy scratch in Game 3 of the Western Conference finals, he has three goals and three assists in the past six games. The Blackhawks’ second power-play unit should also be more dangerous with the recent addition of Teravainen -- his goal in Game 2 came with a man advantage.
The Blackhawks’ fourth line of Andrew Desjardins, Marcus Kruger and Andrew Shaw has been effective offensively and defensively in the first two games. The line produced a goal and had positive possession numbers in both. The trio has also been mostly facing the Lightning’s top line of Ondrej Palat, Tyler Johnson and Nikita Kucherov. That group accounted for two goals in Game 2 but just one with the Blackhawks’ fourth line on the ice.
The Blackhawks have been dominating play in the third period. The Blackhawks outscored the Lightning 2-0 and outshot them 8-5 in Game 1. Both teams scored a goal in the third period in Game 2, but the Blackhawks had 10 shots on net to the Lightning’s two.
As for bad:
Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews have been contained the first two games. Toews’ assist in Game 2 is the lone point between the two players in the series, and that came with Marian Hossa replacing Kane for a shift on the top line. Kane and Toews combined for seven points in the final two games of the Western Conference finals. The duo did have better possessions in Game 2. Kane was a team-high plus-8 Corsi, and Toews was a plus-5 Corsi. Despite that, Kane was held without a shot on net in Game 2. It’s the first time in these playoffs he didn’t have at least one.
Quenneville said he wasn’t too concerned about his stars, however.
“They had some great looks there,” Quenneville said. “Had a couple really good, quality chances in the first period, had some good stuff in the second. They're dangerous.”
The Blackhawks haven’t been taking many penalties, but forward Patrick Sharp's lack of stick discipline cost them in the third period in Game 2. Sharp was called for slashing at 4 minutes, 59 seconds. He jumped back on the ice after the Blackhawks killed off the penalty, got involved in the play and was called for high sticking. The Blackhawks couldn’t fend off a second consecutive power play, and the Lightning’s Jason Garrison scored the winning goal.
“They both were unintentional,” Sharp said. “We were battling, and I guess my stick came up and clipped him. I didn’t mean to do it. It happens. I’ll take responsibility. It’s tough to put your penalty kill in a situation like that.”
The Blackhawks still aren’t getting anything from their fifth and sixth defensemen. David Rundblad played a total 15:12 in the first two games, and Kyle Cumiskey totaled 10:09. Cumiskey was on the ice for a goal against in Game 2 and was a plus-1 Corsi. Rundblad was a minus-1 Corsi. There’s no guarantee Trevor van Riemsdyk is going to be any better, but Quenneville might turn to the rookie -- and the coach has said van Riemsdyk is an option going forward.
Corey Crawford received the dreaded “OK” label from Quenneville after Game 2, in which the Blackhawks goaltender allowed four goals on 24 shots. He faced two shots in the third period, and one went in. The Blackhawks are going to need a better save percentage in the coming games. Crawford stopped 22 of 23 shots in Game 1.
“It’s frustrating, for sure,” Crawford said. “It’s frustrating. I felt good. But it’s not good enough, especially when we get momentum. We score a goal on the power play, and they come back with those two. We showed character again. We almost came back and tied it. Tough bounce on their power-play goal. But we came back. We were close. Can’t let that happen.”