We do know that 20-year-old Andrei Vasilevskiy actually netted the Game Two win over the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday, becoming just the second NHL goalie to win his first playoff win in relief in the Stanley Cup Final. For those scoring at home, Lester Patrick was the first to do so. In 1928. Oh, and Patrick was actually the coach of the Rangers.
Vasilevskiy had five saves in the win, including one big one on Brad Richards, but it’s the context of the victory that really stands out here.
Tampa starter Ben Bishop started Game Two and left the net not once but twice in the third period for “undisclosed reasons.”
”No one really knew what was going on,” Lightning captain Steven Stamkos said. “We were kind of listening to the announcements of who was in net for our team a couple times.”
The fun began when Bishop first skated off after Chicago’s Patrick Sharp took his second penalty of the final period at 7:17. The game was tied 3-3 and Vasilevskiy was put in. Jason Garrison scored for Tampa on the ensuing power play and suddenly Bishop was back in goal. Okay.
Then, at 12:19 of the third, Bishop left again. For good. Vasilevskiy was back in for the aforementioned win, locking the game up for the 4-3 victory with Garrison’s goal serving as the winner
So what’s wrong with Bishop?
Tampa head coach Jon Cooper was mum on the subject and has been ever since. Nobody knows what caused Bishop to leave the net twice in the third period.
“When Bish had to leave, there wasn’t an ounce of stress on anybody on our bench, including myself,” Cooper said. “I mean, the kid [Vasilevskiy] proved it when he went in. He was great.”
So now, talk has turned to who will start Game Three when it goes on Monday night. Cooper was cagey, as coaches during the playoffs often are, and even fished out a joke in response to questions about Bishop. “Well, in honour of the 11-year anniversary of our organization’s first Stanley Cup,” he said, “how would John Tortorella answer that question? I’ll just leave it at that.”
So, yeah. Nobody knows what’s going on with Bishop and Tampa at this point. Some have speculated about a leg injury, but for all intents and purposes that’s just guesswork. What we do know is that Vasilevskiy could have the start for Game Three. That’s a lot of pressure for the kid and a lot of pressure for the Lightning, who may have just seen this series change dramatically.