Tampa Bay v. Chicago, Stanley Cup Finals, Game Three
Any worries about the goalie situation for the Tampa Bay Lightning was solved immediately as Ben Bishop took his usual role between the pipes for the Bolts in game three from the United Center in Chicago. Despite not being at home for the first time in the series, the Lightning started off looking sharp and would score the first goal of the game.
With just under fifteen minutes in the first period, Lightning player Victor Hedman would get the puck deep in the Lightning zone behind teammate Ben Bishop. Using superb vision, Hedman would dish a fabulous long pass to Ryan Callahan to set up Callahan on a breakaway one on one with Blackhawk’s goalie Corey Crawford. Callahan took as much advantage of Hedman’s pass as possible, taking a few strides on the ice before shooting a blistering slap shot. The shot sailed to the right side of the crossbar and down into the net, creating a noise that instantly silenced the crowd in black and red at the United Center as the Lightning took the early lead at 1-0.
Chicago would finally get a break with a power play with less than six minutes left in the first period. With Tampa Bay goalie Ben Bishop screened by Chicago’s Shaw, the Blackhawks’ Brad Richard would get the puck from Hossa’s pass. Richard appeared to hesitate for a second, but then immediately saw his opportunity to take a hard slap shot that somehow managed to bounce off goalie Ben Bishop’s glove and into the back of the right side of the net to tie the game at 1-1.
The Tampa Bay Lightning finally found a way to outshoot the Blackhawks in the second period but could not capitalize on their opportunities. Despite numerous offensive chances by each team, both the Lightning’s goalie Ben Bishop and Chicago’s goalie Corey Crawford played flawlessly in the second period.
Of interesting note this period was when Ben Bishop’s injury became slightly prevalent. Bishop would be seen a few times getting up off the ice slower than usual when making saves down low near the ice.
This was not helped when the Blackhawks’ Brandon Saad made contact with Bishop putting the goalie face down on the ice forcing the referee to call interference on Saad despite Chicago already being a man down.
However, the Lightning could not capitalize on the 5-3 power play. As Chicago goalie Corey Crawford made dazzling save after save shutting down the Lightning power play he had the United Center on its feet louder than ever to close the second period tied at 1-1.
With the second period being quiet in terms of goals, the noise of the third period would continue to echo well into the night. It started with Lightning goalie Ben Bishop looking physically sharp despite previous interference from Saad in the late second period. Bishop would not allow the injury to affect him like it did in game two, and he continued to stay on the ice as Chicago began to relentlessly attack the net.
The Blackhawks had a fire lit under them as they confidently skated through the Lightning’s zone with ease and leaving the puck at just exactly the right spot for their teammates to take possession. Chicago was making highlight reel plays look simple and this creativity would pay off with just under sixteen minutes left as Duncan Keith was able to find Brandon Saad in his usual spot in front of the net. Saad, bending down on one knee, took a quick one timer slap shot to put the puck behind Tampa Bay goalie Ben Bishop making it 2-1 in Chicago’s favor.
Sadly for the home crowd, Chicago’s lead would last only seconds. Immediately following Chicago’s lead changing goal, the Lightning took advantage of Chicago’s own faceoff after Blackhawks lost control of the puck near their bench literally giving the puck to the Lightning allowing Nikita Kucherov to take the puck in and put it on Blackhawk’s goalie Corey Crawford’s near side. Crawford would save Kucherov’s initial shot but would not be able to control the puck in front of him giving Lightning player Ondrej Palat the opportunity to tap the puck in and tie the game up. Just like that the game was tied at 2-2 in mere seconds as some fans were not even done watching the replay of Chicago’s lead changing goal on the scoreboard monitor.
The young Tampa Bay squad would not let up. With just over three minutes remaining, the Lightning’s Viktor Hedman would win the faceoff in his end and dish the puck on a give a go to Callahan. Receiving the puck back from Callahan at the middle half of the ice, Hedman skated the puck beautifully into Chicago’s zone. Just as Hedman appeared to skate the puck behind the goal or change the direction to turn the puck towards the bench, he instead quickly whipped the puck to the front of the net where his teammate Cedric Paquette was waiting to score the game winner making it 3-2 Tampa Bay.
The last minutes would be tough ones as the Blackhawks continued to try everything to scrape out a win, but Ben Bishop and the Lightning would remain fierce, sealing the 3-2 victory in Chicago.
Once again the series became a story about goalies. Tampa Bay ended their goalie dilemma immediately in game three. Bishop started the game looking good besides a just a tiny bit of rust shown in getting up from his knees, especially after the contact from Saad. Yet, if Bishop was truly injured, he showed no sings of it. Postgame, when asked if he thought of ever taking Ben Bishop out of the game coach cooper replied a confident “no,” followed by a slight chuckle. If Ben Bishop continues to play as great as he did tonight in game two with 36 saves, Coach Cooper will not have to answer any questions about the goalie situation.
Despite not getting the win, there is nothing bad to say about tough goalie Corey Crawford. Crawford looked stunning throughout the game including shutting down the Lightning when the Blackhawks were down 5-3 on a power play and even a breakaway in the third period, but the guy can only do so much.
The young Bolts were able to quiet the Blackhawk faithful at the United Center in Chicago by winning 3-2, definitely not an easy task to do away from home ice and an impressive showing of the squad’s maturity despite their age. In the second period, despite not scoring on a 5 on 3 power play advantage, the Bolts did not let it get to them and continued to plug away.
This win was huge for the Lighting squad showing the team that they can continue to win these big games away and at home, just like they did in the playoffs to get here. With tonight’s win, the Bolts now have an impressive 8-3 record away in the postseason and show no signs of letting up anytime soon as they now lead the series 2-1.
Game four of the 2015 Stanley Cup finals continues from Chicago’s United Center on Wednesday, June 10th, at 8:00 pm eastern time.
See the four games: