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

2015 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs
Stanley Cup Final Game #4
#2 Tampa Bay Lightning at #3 Chicago Blackhawks
Lightning Lead Best of Seven Series 2-1
Wednesday, June 10, 2015, 8:05 pm Eastern, TV: NBC Sports
United Center – Chicago, Illinois
Opening Money Line: Chicago -152 / Tampa Bay +132
Current Money Line: Chicago -165 / Tampa Bay +145
Opening Total
: under 5 1/2 -110 / over 5 1/2 -110
Current Total: under 5 1/2 -135 / over 5 1/2 +115

Chicago looks to tie the Stanley Cup Final in game four against Tampa Bay.
Chicago looks to tie the Stanley Cup Final in game four against Tampa Bay.

The first three games of the Stanley Cup Final have been decided by one goal and the road team has won two of those games. The Tampa Bay Lightning lead the series 2-1 with game four Wednesday night in Chicago against the Blackhawks. Chicago looks to even the series and make it a best of three series. Tampa Bay looks to take a 3-1 lead and put the franchise of winning the second Stanley Cup in franchise history.

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 Monday night. Tampa Bay would regain home ice with a 3-2 victory.

There was some question whether Tampa Bay goalie Ben Bishop would be able to play in game four after he left game three twice in the third period. Bishop did start game four though but looked to be suffering a lower body injury of some sort as he had difficulty moving in the crease and getting up and down.

Ryan Callahan opened the scoring for the Lightning five minutes into the game assisted by Victor Hedman and J.T. Brown. Callahan underwent an emergency appendectomy during the Eastern Conference Finals  Brad Richards tied it for the Blackhawks on a power play goal with just over 5 minutes left in the period, assisted by Marian Hossa and Andrew Shaw. The score would remain tied at the end of the first, but the Blackhawks missed a wide open net twice in the period. Chicago dominated the play in the first with 19 shots to 7. Neither team scored in the second. Chicago killed off a 5 on 3 power play late in the second period. Tampa Bay outshot Chicago 17-7 in the second.

Four minutes into the third period, Brandon Saad scored for the Blackhawks assisted by Hossa and Duncan Keith. The lead would prove to be short lived as Ondreg Palat scored for the Lightning 13 seconds later assisted by Nikita Kucherov and Tyler Johnson. The game looked like it could go into overtime until Cedric Paquette scored the game winner for Tampa with 3:11 left assisted by Hedman and Callahan.

Despite being hobbled, Bishop made 36 saves on 38 shots. Chicago goalie Corey Crawford made 29 saves on 32 shots faced. Chicago was 1/2 on the power play and Tampa Bay was 0/2. The Lightning had 46 hits to 27 for the Blackhawks. Chicago had 21 turnovers to 19 for Tampa Bay. The Blackhawks won 39 faceoffs to 28 for the Lightning.

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Chicago is outscoring teams 3.15-2.90. The Blackhawks are 12/59 (20.3%) on the power play and 43/56 (76.8%) on the penalty kill. Chicago has 3 short handed goals and hasn’t allowed any. The Blackhawks average 32.2 shots per game and opponents average 35.4 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 10-6 in the playoffs with 2.59 GAA. He has a save percentage of .916 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 10 assists.  Duncan Keith has 2 goals and 18 assists. Jonathan Toews has 9 goals and 10 assists.  Marian Hossa has 4 goals and 12 assists. Patrick Sharp has 4 goals and 9 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 8 points in the playoffs. Defenseman Johnny Oduya is probable with an upper body injury.  Defenseman Michal Rozival is out for the season with an ankle injury. Chicago is mainly using only four defensemen..

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Tampa Bay is outscoring teams 2.74-2.44 in the playoffs this season. The Lightning are 17/79 (21.5%) on the power play in the playoffs and 62/77 (80.5%) 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 28.2 shots per game and opponents average 28.2.

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 is probable for game four. Bishop has been benched twice in the playoffs in favor of Andrei Vasilevskiy who also won game three in relief of Bishop. Vasilevskiy is 1-0 in the playoffs with a 4.43 GAA and an .895 save percentage.

Center Tyler Johnson has 13 goals and 10 assists. Nikita Kucherov has 10 goals and 12 assists. Steven Stamkos has 7 goals and 10 assists. Alex Killorn has 8 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 9 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.

Tampa Bay is 4-0 in road games, 6-1 in Wednesday games, 4-1 in Stanley Cup Final games, 12-4 on one day rest, and 2-5 after a win. The Lightning have won 8 of the last 10 against the Blackhawks.

Chicago is 6-1 after scoring 2 goals or less, 7-3 on one day rest, 93-42 at home, and 35-17 in Wednesday games. The under is 4-1 overall in this series and the last five meetings in Chicago have gone under the total.

One of the reasons Tampa Bay leads the series is they have held Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews to a combined one point in the series. That needs to change quickly if Chicago wants to tie this series. The Blackhawks are a veteran team and I think they respond at home in a virtual must win. This is the second game in a row that the oddsmakers have made the total 5 1/2. If they insist on giving the extra half goal then keep taking the under even if you have to lay -135.

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