With each of the five games of the 2015 Stanley Cup Final decided by one goal, the margin for error has been razor thin. That was evident in Game 5 between the Chicago Blackhawks and Tampa Bay Lightning, when a couple of goaltending gaffes helped decide the course of the game and perhaps the remainder of the series.
During a sequence early in the first period, Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford erased a mistake of his own doing, the Lightning lost a key player, and Chicago forward Patrick Sharp cashed in on a big mistake by Tampa Bay goalie Ben Bishop. It added up to a 1-0 lead and a 2-1 win for the Blackhawks, who lead the best-of-7 series 3-2 and are in position to win the Stanley Cup in Game 6 at United Center on Monday (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, TVA Sports).
It started when Crawford played the puck to the left of his net and his outlet pass hit Lightning forward Nikita Kucherov. Crawford stopped Kucherov's shot at an open net with his stick to deny Tampa Bay the first goal of the game. In the process, Kucherov collided with Crawford, crashed shoulder-first into the post, and left after three shifts 5:22 into the game and did not return.
Kucherov's 10 goals and 22 points in the Stanley Cup Playoffs are second behind teammate Tyler Johnson, and Kucherov is one-third of the Lightning's "Triplets" line.
"He's a point-per-game guy in these playoffs. He's a big part of our offense," Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. "In a series where goals are at a premium, it's tough when you lose one of your guys. In saying that, though, we battled hard. We got that game tied. You know, it's unfortunate we fell one short in the end. Naturally losing a guy like [Kucherov], you don't want to lose guys like that."
About a minute later, Bishop came out to play the puck following a Blackhawks clear, but missed it and collided with defenseman Victor Hedman. Trailing the play, Sharp picked up the loose change and scored into an empty net at 6:11.
"The puck bounced off the boards, I was coming for it, Hedman was coming for it, you can't really hear anything in the building, it's that loud," Bishop said. "That was the result. I saw him coming, I thought he would have saw me. First time it's happened. A bad time for it to happen."
For Sharp, it was his fifth goal of the playoffs and first since Game 2 of the Western Conference Second Round against the Minnesota Wild.
"I haven't seen the highlight," Sharp told the Chicago Tribune. "I found myself with a heck of an opportunity and just put one in."