Stanley Cup Final: Lightning vs. Blackhawks – Game Four

Ben BishopThe Lightning now lead the series, two games to one after a big win in Game 3 on Monday night. Tonight’s game with be the fourth in the series taking stage at the Mad House on Madison, Chicago’s United Center.

Tampa got away with a wild 3-2 victory over the Blackhawks almost stealing a 2-1 advantage in the series, and since then the media has jumped on the unexpected developments of the series, for instance how Cedric Paquette has now scored in two straight games for Tampa, this last one the winner, while Chicago Captain, Jonathan Toews doesn’t have a goal in the series. Paquette was able to get in front of the net and tuck in a neat pass from teammate, defenceman Victor Hedman, who as of now is a Conn Smythe Trophy frontrunner. He also made an amazing 40-yard pass that sent Ryan Callahan in for the game’s opening goal.

Lightning goaltender, Ben Bishop’s status was up in the air going into Game 3, but he showed up and came through for his team. Meanwhile, on the other end of the ice Corey Crawford, played pretty solid for most of the game but in the third period also gave up the game-tying goal to Ondrej Palat just 13 seconds after Brandon Saad scored that gave the Blackhawks a very short-lived 2-1 lead.

Crawford gave up the winner as Hedman blazed up the middle of the ice, veered left and fed the 21-year-old Paquette for the goal which sucked all the air and energy out of the crowd, and put tension in the air as the Hawks pushed for a tying goal.

“It’s frustrating,” Toews said. “A lot of the things that we did today gave us the feeling we were going to come out on top.”

Bishop did not look in top form. His knees creaked as crawled along during the game, it looked like ge needed his gloved hand to help him get back on his feet after going down to make a save. He coughed up really fat rebounds and seemed to be close to quitting the game many times, at any moment.

The strange thing was, he just kept stopping the puck.

“That kid said give me the net,” said Lightning coach Jon Cooper, who had staged an elaborate dog-and-pony show with Bishop at the morning skate, revealing nothing about the goalie’s health.

“We’re not going to put anyone in the game who’s going to be in harm’s way of hurting himself,” Cooper said afterwards.

“Of course we could see that,” Toews said, of the Tampa goalie’s repeated struggles to get up.
After Callahan’s goal, the Hawks went into overdrive and put on an exhibition of speed, puck handling and skill, rocketing off 16 unanswered shots on Bishop, in a period of 13-plus minutes where the Lightning didn’t test Crawford once.

Chicago’s shooters missed many shots, almost comically. Shot after shot, chance after chance, one tragic one for Marian Hossa who missed an open net, was most of the night an overpowering presence on the ice. Teuvo Teravainen, looked up and cursed in Finnish before they were finally rewarded with a tying goal at 14:22. But it just wanted meant to last as Paquette had his answer to that. By the end of the game Chicago outshot Tampa Bay 38-32, including 19-7 in the first period. Tampa, turned the tables on the Hawks in the second, outshooting the Hawks 17-7, but neither team could finish it off, so it was still tied 1-1 entering the final period.

“I liked their first period,” Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said. “We had two empty nets and didn’t capitalize on either one. We still had 1-1. Scored a big power play goal, got some excitement. The crowd was there. I thought we had a good first, they had a good second. Third was even. Tough loss.”

But, this is not unfamiliar territory for Chicago. Back in the 2013 Stanley Cup Finals, the Blackhawks were trailing 2-1 in the series as well, they had scored just one goal each in Games 2 and 3 before they won three in a row to beat the Boston Bruins in six games for the Stanley Cup. So the Hawks can’t be written off yet and will probably play the games of their lives tonight.

Our Pick: Lightning over the Hawks in Game Four