Ben Bishop leaves Game 2 against Blackhawks — twice

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Ben Bishop is replaced by goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy during the third period Saturday night. (AP Photo)

By Mark Lazerus and Mark Potash

Staff reporters

TAMPA, Fla. — Ben Bishop was out. Then he was in. Then he was out again.

And nobody’s saying why.

“I hate to be that guy,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. “I will not answer a question about the goaltending or what happened tonight.”

So was it an equipment issue? An injury? An illness? Who knows? He was said to be getting treatment after the game, and was bumped by Antoine Vermette in the third period. But whatever it was, it was a stunning turn of events, and backup goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy picked up a most unlikely victory.

With Game 2 tied 3-3 with 12:43 left in the third period Saturday night, Bishop left the ice and headed for the dressing room. Vasilevskiy came in for 92 seconds, all of them with the Lightning on the power play, and Tampa Bay scored to take a 4-3 lead. Bishop then re-entered the game — for all of three minutes and 30 seconds. That left Vasilevskiy to hold down the fort for the final 7:41, which he did, staving off the Hawks third-period push with five saves down the stretch.

“The one thing about Vasilevskiy, I know we have two unbelievably capable goaltenders,” Cooper said. “When Bish had to leave, there wasn’t an ounce of stress on anybody on our bench, including myself. The kid proved it when he went in. He was great.”

Said Victor Hedman: “He’s a big guy, just competes real hard. It’s amazing he’s only 20 years old. He’s shown on every level that he can win — world juniors, world championships, and in Russia. It’s been a lot of fun to watch him this year.”

Vasilevskiy said he had no warning.

“Nervous? Just maybe a little bit, but after the first couple shots, I [felt] better,” he said. “Every game I’m ready, and I keep my head ready for the game, and that’s it.”

The goalie change didn’t alter the Hawks’ game plan.

“You play the same way,” Patrick Sharp said. “You try to generate as many shots as you can, you try to test the goaltender and stay focused. I don’t think it rattles us or anything. But [it was an] unusual situation. You just try to get to the net just like you would on a regular shift.”

Big week for Versteeg

What a week for Kris Versteeg — on Monday he became a father. On Saturday he played a second straight game in the Stanley Cup Final.

Both are worthwhile accomplishments for the 29-year-old Versteeg. Coming into the Final he had played in just one of the Hawks’ previous 11 playoff games. After his only start —in Game 3 of the Western Conference final against the Anaheim Ducks, he was benched again for the rest of that seven-game series.

But after a spirited effort in Game 1 against the Lightning, Versteeg earned another shot in Game 2 on Saturday night at Amalie Arena.

“Everyone wants to be in the lineup, myself included,” Versteeg said. “I always want to be out there competing, helping in any way I can. So when you’re not in, you have to take it in stride, realize there’s a bigger picture and you’re here to help out.”

Whether it was the excitement of fatherhood, the adrenaline rush of the Stanley Cup Final, or the eagerness to re-establish himself in the lineup, Versteeg looked like a motivated player in Game 1.

“Might [be] a little,” he said when asked if being benched sparked him. “But I feel like I’m a pretty motivated person as is. I feel I’m always motivated regardless of the circumstances.”

Dechets parler

Another Lightning youngster, 21-year-old Cedric Paquette, had the unenviable task of defending Jonathan Toews in Game 1. But Paquette did well, as Toews was held scoreless and had just one shot on goal.He again kept him off the scoresheet in Game 2.

The precocious Paquette, upon discovering Toews speaks French, said he looked forward to talking trash in French in Game 2. Toews was amused that the kid would talk trash in any language.

“He’d have big shoes to fill following [the Ducks’] Ryan Kesler,” Toews said before the game. “I’m looking forward to hearing some of that.”

Reluctant hero

Teuvo Teravainen is uncomfortable in the spotlight, but couldn’t avoid it after scoring the tying goal and assisting on the winning goal in Game 1. He’ll have to get used to it.

As uncomfortable as he is, he still has a good sense of humor about it.

“I don’t know. I think I might not score today. I’ll let the other guys score [in Game 2], so I don’t have to be in the spotlight for the next couple of days,” he said after the morning skate, eliciting laughter from reporters in the Hawks locker room.

He scored, anyway.

Lightning turn to their Teuvo

Tampa Lightning coach Jon Cooper turned to 20-year-old prodigy Jonathan Drouin in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final — perhaps goaded into the move by Teravainen’s difference-making performance in Game 1.

Like the 20-year-old Teravainen, Drouin is considered a future NHL star. He was the No. 3 overall pick in the 2013 draft. He scored 32 points (four goals, 28 assists) with a plus-3 differential in 70 games in the regular season. But Cooper has been reluctant to use him in the playoffs — Drouin had played in only three of 21 games prior to Game 1 of the Final. He did not score a point and was a minus-4 in those games.

It’s probably not a coincidence that Cooper relented after Teravainen — who himself has been a healthy scratch five times during the Hawks’ playoff run — had a goal, steal and assist in the Hawks’ 2-1 victory in Game 1.

Drouin adds speed and play-making ability to the lineup.

“It’s hard to sit here and say what to expect [from Drouin],” Cooper said. “I’m going to say, I expect every single guy on our team to have a hat tricktonight and win — what would that be? 60-0. It doesn’t work out that way.

“We expect our guys to produce, stick to our structure, play as hard as you can, look in the mirror at the end of the day and say, ‘I have no regrets.’ That’s what I expect.”

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