Jason Garrison

Sharp apologetic, takes responsibility for costly third-period penalties

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TAMPA — For Patrick Sharp, Saturday was a night to forget.

Or more specifically, a third period to forget.

The veteran forward took two crucial penalties in the final frame of tonight’s Game 2 loss of the Stanley Cup Final, with the second paving the way for Jason Garrison to score the Bolts’ game-winner.

“It was something I don’t think I’ve ever done before,” Sharp said of taking back-to-back penalties. “It happened. You move on from it.

“I take responsibility and apologize to our penalty killers for putting them under such stress.”

Sharp’s first infraction, a slash on Anton Stralman, was called shortly after Marian Hossa got away with interference on Ben Bishop for Chicago’s 3-3 goal early in the third period. While the ‘Hawks were able to kill that one off, they had no such luck with Sharp’s second infraction — a high-stick on Ryan Callahan.

“We were battling and I guess my stick came up and clipped him,” he explained. “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 Garrison goal was Tampa’s first on the power play in this series, after the Bolts went 0-for-2 with the man advantage in Game 1.

Chicago has, for the most part, done a good job of staying out of the box this postseason — averaging the fourth-fewest PIM per game of all 16 teams to make the dance — and that’s probably a good thing; the ‘Hawks are only killing penalties at a 75.9 percent clip in the playoffs, down from 83.4 in the regular season.

As for the legitimacy of his penalties — Stralman did go down somewhat easy on the slashing call — Sharp took the high road, and didn’t go anywhere near criticizing the officials.

“They made the calls,” he said. “I guess I gotta be less careless with my stick. I didn’t think I made too much contact on the first one.”

“But I’m not arguing with the call.”

Tampa Tough: Bolts overcome adversity to draw even in Cup Final

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TAMPA — Well, that was interesting.

In a game with so many compelling storylines — tons of offense, multiple lead changes and a bizarre situation with Ben Bishop twice exiting the contest — the Tampa Bay Lightning wrote the biggest and most important one by defeating the Blackhawks 4-3 on Saturday night, evening up the Stanley Cup Final at one game apiece.

For the Bolts, it was a gutsy victory. Though they refused to call it a must-win, tonight’s game was pretty much that — Since the Stanley Cup Final went to best-of-7 in 1939, teams that go down 0-2 have lost 44 of 49 times.

And getting this series to 1-1 wasn’t easy.

The Lightning had a legitimate beef with Chicago’s 3-3 goal in the third period, as Marian Hossa clearly interfered with Ben Bishop’s pad prior to the puck crossing the line. The officials convened briefly to discuss the incident but — with video replay and coach’s challenges not coming into effect until next season — there was nothing to be done; the goal stood, and the Blackhawks erased a one-goal Tampa lead for the second time on the night.

Shortly thereafter, things got weird.

Bishop left the game briefly midway through the frame, paving the way for 20-year-old Russian rookie Andrei Vasilevskiy to make his series debut. Vasilevskiy then proceeded to stand in net, not face any shots, yet end up the goalie of record as he was in when Jason Garrison scored at 8:49 for what proved to be the game-winner.

Immediately after Garrison scored, Bishop came back in — only to exit again minutes later, forcing Vasilevskiy to go back in goal and finish out the game.

The netminder drama and interference goal overshadowed one of the night’s major themes — that Game 2 was, as many will point out, a showcase of the hockey most expected but failed to witness in the series opener. It was fast, skilled and filled with scoring chances — a far cry from Game 1, which featured just three goals and a third period where Tampa went 13 minutes without a shot.

Tonight, Chicago and Tampa combined to score seven goals on nearly 65 shots. Sixteen different players scored at least a point, with the high-octane “Triplets” line of Tyler Johnson, Ondrej Palat and Nikita Kucherov combining for three.

It set the stage nicely for what promises to be an entertaining Game 3, when the two teams switch locations to the United Center in Chicago.

Notes…

Bolts rookie Jonathan Drouin made his series debut and had two shots in 7:52 of ice-time… Nine different players had single points for Chicago, with Teuvo Teravainen scoring his second goal in as many games… Patrick Sharp wore the goat horns in the third period, taking back-to-back penalties, the second of which Garrison converted for the GWG… Vasilevskiy finished with five saves on five shots, Bishop with 21 on 24… Corey Crawford finished with four goals allowed on 24 shots.

Video: Tampa Bay shakes off controversial goal, takes 4-3 lead

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Aside from possible nibbling from Andrew Shaw, Game 1 of the 2015 Stanley Cup Final didn’t provide much in the way of controversy. There’s some grumbling in Game 2, though.

Update: The volume is likely to go down on the debate thanks to Jason Garrison’s goal, though. Here’s that 4-3 tally:

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Jonathan Toews made a great play in the neutral zone (and then in the attacking zone) to set up Brent Seabrook for the 3-3 goal. Officials huddled a bit after it went in, but Ben Bishop’s pleas about interference fell on deaf ears.

Should the goal count? Judge for yourself:

At minimum, people believe that this is the latest argument for a coach’s challenge.

Some go the extra mile and say it shouldn’t have counted:

PHT Morning Skate: Hulk Hogan thinks ‘Hawks are ‘in a whole bunch of trouble, brother’

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PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

Hulk Hogan believes that “Chicago’s in a whole bunch of trouble, brother.” (CSN Chicago)

Tampa Bay defenseman Jason Garrison will be blogging over the course of the Stanley Cup Final. (NHL.com)

Tyler Bertuzzi had an impressive run with AHL Grand Rapids. (The Detroit News)

The Islanders’ move to Brooklyn won’t be accompanied by a change in the team’s primary home and away jerseys. (Newsday)

In response to Lightning VP Bill Wickett banning out-of-state Blackhawks fans from Tampa Bay home games, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said that fans from Tampa Bay are welcome to come to Chicago. (CSN Chicago)

Given that Los Angeles failed to make the playoffs, Kings GM Dean Lombardi feels that there’s an opportunity to make this summer about improving the players’ conditioning as opposed to the shorter offseasons Los Angeles has had in recent years, which had to focus on recovery. (NHL.com)

Gabryel Boudreau, who was a second round pick in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, is among the players the Sharks opted to let go back into the draft pool. (CSN Bay Area)

Video: ‘We’re right there,’ says Lundqvist

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The New York Rangers were one win away from back-to-back appearances in the Stanley Cup Final. However, there will be no return trip this year.

They lost Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final to the Tampa Bay Lightning, ending a post-season that saw Henrik Lundqvist often as the backbone, their best player, on many nights. In the first round against Pittsburgh, each of the five games were decided by one goal, including three in a row by 2-1 decisions.

Against Washington, the Rangers managed to come back from a 3-1 series deficit. Again, every game decided by one goal.

It can be argued New York was flirting with an earlier exit, had it not been for timely goals, but mostly for the play of Lundqvist, who posted a .928 save percentage in the playoffs. The only goalie to play 10 or more games in this post-season and post a better save percentage was Braden Holtby.

Despite giving up two third-period goals — an Alex Killorn backhander through traffic and an Ondrej Palat wrist shot off the rush — Lundqvist was sharp. His collection of saves included a great glove stop on Jason Garrison, and a quick pad save on Tyler Johnson to keep it scoreless in the second period.

“I think we all expected him to do that; he’s a great goaltender,” said Johnson of Lundqvist to NHL.com.

“There’s no denying that. We knew we would just have to keep getting opportunities and we knew he was going to save a lot of those, so it was just a matter of time for us to get try to get more opportunities than he could save. Luckily, we were able to.”