Chicago now leads the series, 3-2, heading into Game 6 in Chicago on Monday night.
The Blackhawks were aided by one of their best starts of the series. Tampa Bay spent much of the first period hemmed into their own zone, trying to weather a relentless Chicago attack that resulted in a 14-5 shot differential. The Blackhawks did take the lead, but they didn't have to work for it. When Ben Bishop left the net and collided with teammate Victor Hedman, Patrick Sharp gathered the puck and slipped it into the empty net for the 1-0 lead.
The tide began turning in the second period, though. Everything the Lightning seemed to do wrong in the first was forgotten in the second, as they pushed the pace back down the other end of the ice. As the Blackhawks encountered penalty troubles, Tampa Bay struck when Jason Garrison threaded a pass through defenders to Valtteri Filppula to tie the game.
Bishop's shakiness in net ultimately undid his team's efforts. When the Blackhawks forced a 2-on-1 chance early in the third period, a bad rebound off Bishop's pad landed on Antoine Vermette's stick and ended up in the back of the net. Chicago took a 2-1 lead with the score and never looked back.
3 things we learned
1. Ben Bishop looked troublesome
The Lightning goalie's return from injury was less than ideal. His rebound control was nearly nonexistent, his decisions weren't consistently good and many shots on goal were simply adventures. And nobody will soon forget this amazing blunder in the first period.
2. Another strong game for Corey Crawford
Although the Blackhawks dominated play for long stretches of Game 5, their inability to turn momentum into goals kept the Lightning alive and kicking for awhile. It's a testament to Crawford's play that Tampa Bay didn't take advantage of this. The only goal he let through came off a tremendous pass from Garrison that left him exposed. Other than that, he was stingy again in net.
3. Tampa Bay faces an extremely daunting task in Game 6
It's well-known that the United Center is an especially difficult place for road teams to win at any point in the season, let alone the Stanley Cup Final. Now the Lightning must save their season and force a Game 7 in Chicago with all of the momentum on the Blackhawks' side. Whether they succeed depends on a lot of factors, and there's no question the players recognize the pressure they'll face on Monday.