Stanley Cup Final Game Five: Chicago Blackhawks at Tampa Bay Lightning

2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs
Stanley Cup Final Game #5
#3 Chicago Blackhawks at #2 Tampa Bay Lightning
Best of Seven Series Tied 2-2
Saturday, June 13, 2015, 8:05 pm Eastern, TV: NBC
Amalie Arena – Tampa Bay, Florida
Opening Line: Tampa Bay -125 / Chicago +105
Current Line: Tampa Bay -125 / Chicago +105
Opening Total: over 5 1/2 -110 / under 5 1/2 -110
Current Total: under 5 1/2 -150 / over 5 1/2 +130

The Lightning and Blackhawks are tied at 2-2 in the Stanley Cup Final. Game Five is Saturday night in Tampa.
The Lightning and Blackhawks are tied at 2-2 in the Stanley Cup Final. Game Five is Saturday night in Tampa.

After the Tampa Bay Lightning and Chicago Blackhawks each won a game on the road and at home, the Stanley Cup Final is now a best of three series. Game Five is Saturday night in Tampa and each game has been decided by one goal in what has been one of the best Stanley Cup Final in recent years.

Chicago, coached by Joel Quenneville, finished third in the Central Division with a 48-28-6 record and 102 points. The Blackhawks beat the #2 seed Nashville Predators in six games in the first round, and swept the wild card Minnesota Wild in four games in the conference semifinals. The Blackhawks beat the #1 seed Anaheim Ducks in seven games in the Western Conference Finals, including a game seven win on the road. Chicago is looking for the sixth Stanley Cup in franchise history, and their third since 2010.

Tampa Bay, coached by Jon Cooper, finished second in the Atlantic Division with a 50-24-8 record and 108 points, two points behind the Montreal Canadiens. The Lightning beat the #3 seed Detroit Red Wings in seven games in the first round, despite trailing 3-2 in the series. Tampa Bay took a 3-0 series lead against the Canadiens in the second round, but ended up winning the series in six games. The Lightning beat the New York rangers in seven games in the Eastern Conference Finals, including a game seven win on the road. Tampa Bay  returns to the Stanley Cup Final for only the second time in franchise history after winning the Cup in 2004.

In game one, Chicago scored twice in the last seven minutes of the game to win 2-1. Tampa Bay responded with a hard fought 4-3 victory in game two. The Lightning improved to  8-1 in the playoffs after a loss. The series moved to Chicago for game three. Tampa Bay would regain home ice with a 3-2 victory. Chicago tied the series Wednesday night with a 2-1 victory at home.

Tampa Bay goalie Ben Bishop suffered a lower body injury in game two. He left the game twice in the third period of that game. Bishop would start game three but looked to be in discomfort when getting up and down and moving in the crease. He was listed as probable in game four, but was a late scratch in favor of 20 year old Russian rookie Andrei Vasilevskiy. Vasilevskiy got the win in game two in relief of Bishop, but this was his first career playoff start. Bishop is listed as questionable for game five.

In game four, Tampa bay outshot Chicago 9-2 in the first period, but no goals were scored. Chicago captain Jonathan Toews scored his first goal of the series just over six minutes into the second assisted by Patrick Sharp and Marian Hossa. Alex Killorn tied it up five minutes later assisted by Valtteri Filppula and Steven Stamkos. The assist was the first point of the series for Stamkos.

Brandon Saad scored for Chicago six minutes into the third assisted by Patrick Kane. Kane recorded his first point of the series with the assist. Tampa Bay would pepper the Chicago net with shots after that but could never get the game tying goal past Corey Crawford. The Blackhawks would even the series with the 2-1 win. The loss snapped a four game road winning streak for the Lightning. This is the first time since 1968 that the first four games of the Stanley Cup Final have been decided by one goal.

Vasilevskiy had 17 saves on 19 shots. Crawford had 24 saves on 25 shots. Both teams were a combined 0/7 on the power play. Tampa Bay had 46 hits to 34 for Chicago, but the Lightning have been the more physical team throughout the series. Chicago won despite committing 23 turnovers to just 12 for the Lightning. As they have throughout the series, the Blackhawks dominated the faceoff circle winning 38 to 20 for the Lightning.

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Chicago is outscoring teams 3.10-2.81. The Blackhawks are 12/62 (19.4%) on the power play and 47/60 (78.3%) on the penalty kill. Chicago has 3 short handed goals and hasn’t allowed any. The Blackhawks average 31.5 shots per game and opponents average 34.9 per game.

Chicago has used 2 goalies in the playoffs. Corey Crawford struggled against Nashville in the first round and was benched in favor of Scott Darling for four games in that series. Darling struggled too, and Crawford has started every game since. Crawford is 11-6 in the playoffs with 2.50 GAA. He has a save percentage of .918 with one shutout. Darling is 3-1 with a 2.22 GAA. He has a save percentage of .936.

Patrick Kane has 10 goals and 11 assists.  Duncan Keith has 2 goals and 18 assists. Jonathan Toews has 10 goals and 10 assists.  Marian Hossa has 4 goals and 13 assists. Patrick Sharp has 4 goals and 10 assists.  Brad Richards has 3 goals and 9 assists. Brent Seabrook has 7 goals and 4 assists. Andrew Shaw has 5 goals and 7 assists. Teuvo Teravainen and Brandon Saad have at least 9 points in the playoffs. Defenseman Johnny Oduya is probable with an arm injury.  Defenseman Michal Rozival is out for the season with an ankle injury. Chicago is mainly using only four defensemen, but got a lift when Kimmo Timonen returned to the line-up after missing the first three games. .

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Tampa Bay is outscoring teams 2.67-2.42 in the playoffs this season. The Lightning are 17/83 (20.5%) on the power play in the playoffs and 65/80 (81.2%) on the penalty kill. Tampa Bay has been on special teams far more than any team in the playoffs, both on the power play and penalty kill. The Lightning have 3 short handed goals and have allowed 2. Tampa Bay averages 28.1 shots per game and opponents average 27.8.

Goalie Ben Bishop is 13-9 in the playoffs with a 2.19 goals against average. He has a save percentage of .919 with three shutouts. Bishop was benched twice in the playoffs in favor of Vasilevskiy before this series in blowout losses for the Lightning. Vasilevskiy is 1-1 in the playoffs with a 3.19 GAA and an .895 save percentage. If Bishop can’t go, Vasilevskiy’s back-up is Kristers Gudlevskis who has only 3 games of NHL experience, none this year.

Center Tyler Johnson has 13 goals and 10 assists. He is listed as probable for undisclosed reasons. Nikita Kucherov has 10 goals and 12 assists. Steven Stamkos has 7 goals and 11 assists. Alex Killorn has 9 goals and 9 assists. Ondrej Palat has 8 goals and 8 assists. Victor Hedman has a goal and 13 assists in the playoffs. Valtteri Filppula has 3 goals and 10 assists. The line of Johnson, Kucherov and Palat is nicknamed the Triplets, and has accounted for most of the scoring in the playoffs, even though they are the second line.

Chicago is 7-1 after scoring 2 goals or less, 5-2 in Stanley Cup Final games, 11-5 against teams with winning records, and overall. Five of the last six games in this series have gone under the total, but the over is 5-2 between the teams in Tampa Bay.

Tampa Bay is 4-0 on two days rest, 37-14 at home, and 9-4 after scoring 2 goals or less. The home team is 5-2 in this series recently.The Lightning have won 8 of the last 11 against the Blackhawks, including 5 of 6 in Tampa Bay.

For the third straight game, the odds makers have made this total 5.5. Only game two has gone over the total. I suppose it is because of the uncertainty in the Tampa net. Still, I will keep taking the under and you should too. As for the game itself, these teams have proven to be evenly matched. I don’t see that changing in this game. I like the Blackhawks to take control of the series with a hard fought road win.

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