Chicago Blackhawks win in final minutes

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Tampa Florida: The Stanley Cup Final finally got under way and for only the second time it is starting in Tampa Bay, Florida. If you had said, 30 years ago, that the NHL Stanley Cup Final would have games here in Tampa Bay, people would have laughed at you. If you said it would happen more than once, it might have started a fight. To have a Florida team make the Stanley Cup Finals twice — this is big news for the people of Florida.

Amalie Arena, the Ice Palace, in Tampa Bay, FL
Amalie Arena, the Ice Palace, in Tampa Bay, FL

For the Chicago Blackhawks and their fans, this is something they have come to expect. They have won five Stanley Cups in their history, the last time was two years ago when they defeated the Boston Bruin in six games.

The playoffs have been a tough road for both teams. Both are coming off very tough, physical seven-game series, the Blackhawks defeating the Anaheim Ducks in a bruising series that saw the Ducks deliver more hits in each game. The Lightning won against the new York Rangers, the defending Eastern Conference Champions and last Friday was the first time the Rangers lost a Game Seven at home in Madison Square Garden.

The big key in the match up would be the goalies. Ben Bishop of Tampa Bay twice shut out the Rangers, a feat Corey Crawford couldn’t accomplish against the Ducks. People actually questioned whether Crawford was the right man for the job during the playoffs.

Stanley-Anthem1Scoring will be a big of course. The Blackhawks scored 24 goals in the series against the Ducks. Tampa bay was only able to score 21 against New York. So it really was a toss up as to which team would win Game One. This is an evenly matched Stanley Cup Final so we can expect it to go at least six games.

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This game started with a bang for the Tampa Bay fans. Four and a half minutes into the first period Lightning center Alex Killorn scored on the Chicago Blackhawks with a backhanded tip-in from 12 feet out. He actually hit the puck when it was about three feet in the air, catching Hawks goalie Corey Crawford by surprise.

It was an electric moment in the Amalie Arena and every time the Lightning had a penalty kill keeping Chicago from scoring, the crowd was on its feet cheering as if they had just seen their team score another goal.

But that would be the last time any puck would be counted for a goal for the next 45-plus minutes of play in this first game of the 2015 Stanley Cup Final.

Chicago goalie Corey Crawford and center Antoine Vermette
Chicago goalie Corey Crawford and
center Antoine Vermette

Throughout the game both teams displayed incredible defense, with Tampa Bay controlling the puck, keeping it in the Chicago zone much of the time. But every time the Lightning threatened, the Blackhawk defense stiffened and Chicago goalie Corey Crawford would make a save.

It was the same on the other end of the ice.

Tampa bay goalie Ben Bishop made some great saves, but it was the energetic and fast Lightning defense that did much to keep Chicago scoreless for most of the game.

It was about 13:30 minutes into the third period when the game saw it its second goal Chicago winger Teuvo Teravainen scored from 49 feet out to tie the game. Less than two minutes later center Antoine Vermette scored from 29 feet to give Chicago the lead.

The game ended with the Chicago Blackhawks shocking the hometown Tampa Bay crowd that saw their team leading the game for over 55 minutes of the game.

The Bolts defense was so good the Hawks made only 21 shots on the goal and their big stars were shut out of scoring. It was Chicago’s role players that came in and gave the Hawks the win.

Tampa Bay defenseman Victor Hedman
Tampa Bay defenseman Victor Hedman

Chicago showed it has one thing teams can’t skate around: Chicago has depth on its bench and it won Game One of the Stanley Cup Final.

The big controversy from the game: did Chicago forward Andrew Shaw bite Tampa Bay defenseman Victor Hedman? We may never know for sure, but as of now there is no evidence of anyone biting an opponent.

Final score was 2-1 Chicago Blackhawks.

Game Two of the Stanley Cup Final will be back here at the Amalie Arena, the Ice Palace, Saturday, June 6. Game time will be 7:15 p.m. Eastern Time.

(All photos by Claudia Gestro)