Stanley Cup Finals Game Three: Tampa Bay Lightning at Chicago Blackhawks

2015 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs
Stanley Cup Final Game #3
#2 Tampa Bay Lightning at #3 Chicago Blackhawks
Best of Seven Series Game 1-1
Monday, June 8, 2015, 8:05 pm Eastern, TV: NBC Sports
United Center – Chicago, Illinois
Opening Money Line: Chicago -150 / Tampa Bay +130
Current Money Line: Chicago -155 / Tampa Bay +135
Opening Total
: under 5 1/2 -110 / over 5 1/2 -110
Current Total: under 5 1/2 -130 / over 5 1/2 +110

The Chicago Blackhawks look to take a 2-1 series lead against the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Stanley Cup Finals.
The Chicago Blackhawks look to take a 2-1 series lead against the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Stanley Cup Finals.

After two games decided by a goal, the Stanley Cup final is now a best of five series. Game three between the Tampa Bay Lightning and Chicago Blackhawks in Monday night in Chicago. With the split in Tampa Bay, the Blackhawks now have home ice advantage in the series.

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 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 Saturday night. The Lightning are now 8-1 in the playoffs after a loss.

Tampa Bay scored first with just over 7 minutes to go in the first period on a goal from Cedric Paquette, assisted by Ryan Callahan and Victor Hedman. Chicago tied it up three minutes into the second on a goal from Andrew Shaw, assisted by Mrcus Kruger and Andrew Desjardins. Teuvo Teravainen scored a power play goal for the Blackhawks two minutes later assisted by Marian Hossa and Patrick Sharp. Nikita Kucherov scored about a minute and a half later for Tampa Bay to tie it up assisted by Jason Garrison and Braydon Coburn. Tyler Johnson gave the Lighting a 3-2 lead with just over 6 minutes left in the second, assisted by Kucherov.

Three minutes into the third, Brent Seabrook tied it for Chicago, assisted by Jonathan Toews and Johnny Oduya. Midway through the third, Tampa Bay goalie Ben Bishop removed himself from the game for a mysterious reason. Some are saying he had a knee injury and some are saying he left the game with a digestive illness. He was replaced by back-up Andrei Vasilevskiy, a 20 year old rookie. He played in a couple of games in relief of a ineffective Bishop in blowout losses for the Lightning in the playoffs, but had only 45 minutes of ice time before Saturday. Vasilevskiy was ice cold, but Tampa scored almost as soon as he came into the game to take the pressure off the rookie.

Chicago’s Patrick Sharp was called for slashing 5 minutes into the third and was called for high sticking almost immediately after returning to the ice. The second power play proved costly for Chicago as Garrison scored assisted by Hedman and Callahan. Bishop would return briefly, but then left for good. Vasilevskiy made 5 saves on all five shots he faced to hold off the Blackhawks and earn his first career playoff win as the Lightning evened the series.  Chicago outshot Tampa Bay 10-2 in the third.

Chicago goalie Corey Crawford made 20 saves on 24 shots. Bishop made 21 saves on 24 shots before leaving the game. He is listed as questionable for game three. Both teams were 1 for 3 on the power play. Tampa Bay had 33 hits to 28 for Chicago. The Lightning had 15 turnovers to 14 for the Blackhawks. Chicago won 35 faceoffs to 19 for Tampa Bay.

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Chicago is outscoring teams 3.21-2.90. The Blackhawks are 11/57 (19.3%) on the power play and 41/54 (75.9%) on the penalty kill. Chicago has 3 short handed goals and hasn’t allowed any. The Blackhawks average 31.8 shots per game and opponents average 35.5 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 10-5 in the playoffs with 2.56 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. Jonathan Toews has 9 goals and 10 assists. Duncan Keith has 2 goals and 17 assists. Marian Hossa has 4 goals and 10 assists. Patrick Sharp has 4 goals and 9 assists.  Brad Richards has 2 goals and 9 assists. Brent Seabrook has 7 goals and 4 assists. Andrew Shaw has 5 goals and 6 assists.  Teravainen and Brandon Saad have at least 8 points in the playoffs. Left wing Brian Bickell is questionable with a concussion. Defensman Trevor Van Riemsdyk is questionable with a wrist injury.  Defenseman Michal Rozival is out for the season with an ankle injury. Chicago relied on only four defensemen in the series against Anaheim and the injury to Van Riemsdyk certainly doesn’t help the depth on an already thin unit.

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Tampa Bay is outscoring teams 2.73-2.46 in the playoffs this season. The Lightning are 17/77 (22.1%) on the power play in the playoffs and 61/75 (81.3%) 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 shots per game and opponents average 27.8.

Goalie Ben Bishop is 12-9 in the playoffs with a 2.20 goals against average. He has a save percentage of .918 with three shutouts. Bishop has been benched twice in the playoffs in favor of Andrei Vasilevskiy. Vasilevskiy is 1-0 in the playoffs with a 4.43 GAA and an .895 save percentage.

Center Tyler Johnson has 13 goals and 9 assists. Nikita Kucherov has 10 goals and 11 assists. Steven Stamkos has 7 goals and 10 assists. Alex Killorn has 8 goals and 9 assists. Ondrej Palat has 7 goals and 8 assists. Victor Hedman has a goal and 11 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 Monday games, 7-2 in road games, 11-4 on one day rest, and 1-5 after a win. The last 4 games in Chicago in this series have gone under the total. The Lighting have won 7 of the last 9 games against the Blackhawks.

Chicago is 4-1 in Stanley Cup Final games, 7-2 on one day rest, 49-18 against teams with losing road records, 33-13 in Monday games, 10-4 overall, 93-41 at home, and 13-6 against Atlantic teams. The home team is 4-1 in this series recently. The Blackhawks are 8-3 at home against the Lightning recently.

The Bishop situation is strange to say the least. Vasilevskiy played well but starting could be a different story especially on the road. Chicago has been very tough at home, and I think they win a close game to take a 2-1 series lead.

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