If someone came up to you and asked to describe the Tampa Bay Lightning last night, the word “resiliency” would most likely come to mind.
By Patrick Comia
The Tampa Bay Lightning had everything stacked against them: on the road in a raucous crowd playing the Fratellis whenever a goal went in for their team; the banners of their five Stanley Cup banners to their one (including recent wins in 2010 and 2013); the Chicago Blackhawks themselves who are playing in their traditional red jerseys; the uncertainty of your number one goaltender starting; and the potential of being blown out cause you were on foreign ice in the biggest series of your NHL career.
Well, the Lightning certainly proved that you can have all these things in your corner, but, the game isn’t decided before puck drop. It’s after the game clock reads 0:00. And that’s what the team stuck to get the win in Game 3.
Before the puck was even dropped, all the talk leading up to last night was the status of Ben Bishop. What was it that was ailing him from Game 2? It’s not certain and head coach Jon Cooper wasn’t offering any answers.
Luck would have it that Bishop got the start and played a game where his injury was more noticeable. His movements right to left made the goalie uncomfortable. Underneath his mask, you could see Bishop’s painful facial expressions. Through it all, he toughed it out and held the Blackhawks to only two goals, despite a couple of times leaving the net wide-open for a semi to drive through. One, in particular, was a missed opportunity by Blackhawks forward Marian Hossa as he drew a tripping call in the first period.
Bishop’s 36-save performance in a 3-2 win may not be on par as say Michael Jordan’s Flu game against the Utah Jazz or Willis Read’s epic return for the New York Knicks after suffering a leg injury in the same game, but it has to be one of the remarkable displays of courage through pain.
Could it match Emmitt Smith’s shoulder separation game against the New York Giants in 1993? Maybe not. But, Bishop giving of himself for the team is a burden shared by him and Smith.
Knowing that, the Blackhawks could not take advantage of the opportunity. No matter how hard they tried, they could not get more than two goals past the Big Man.
They crashed the net, bumped the goalie, and fire shot after shot all game and he was still standing.
— NHL (@NHL) June 9, 2015
To start the game, the Lightning had to fight off a wave of Blackhawks who seemed energized from their home crowd.
In fact, they outshot Tampa Bay 19-7. They even went 13 minutes between their fifth and sixth shots. That fifth shot came after 5:09 had passed. It turned out to give the Lightning the early 1-0 lead thanks to Ryan Callahan‘s slap shot who rang the post, after the puck went over the shoulder of Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford.
The play was setup by a beautiful stretch pass from Victor Hedman, who was behind his own team’s net when he made it.
The Blackhawks tied the game with a power goal from veteran Brad Richards at 14:22. After Brandon Saad was tripped on a play before, Chicago had the first power play and executed it to a “t”. Crisp passing, traffic in front of the net, and keeping the puck alive lead to Richards blast from the point which evaded Bishop’s glove.
After a scoreless second, the two teams exchanged goals in the third period. Brandon Saad would give the Blackhawks a temporary one-goal lead as a one-timed a pass from Marian Hossa, who finished with two points. On that goal, Chicago had Tampa Bay running rampant and toyed with them, being able to pass the puck from stick to stick, left, right.
However, 10 seconds after, the Lightning responded and tied the game up at two goals a piece. This was thanks to the Triplets Line. Ondrej Palat got finally got on the goal column for the trio this series. It was simply a play where they crashed the net and took advantage of a loose puck and putting past Corey Crawford, who made 29 saves in the loss.
The back breaker came late in the third period. With 3:11 left in the game, a play led by Victor Hedman resulted in a goal for the Lightning. Cedric Paquette scored a wrist shot after receiving a pass from Hedman, who took a man with him into the corner, allowing open space for the puck to find a Lightning player.
While the players shifted to the right of Crawford, Paquette trailed the play in front and redirected the puck in the opposite of direction, into a open net.
After being down one goal in the third period, the Lightning scored two of the biggest goals in this series so far. Even when they were being out played for most of the game, they still found a way to get the goals when they needed them the most. It was cause of this that they won last night, 3-2.
The Lightning lead the Stanley Cup Final 2-1. Game Four on Wednesday night may prove pivotal in this season’s Stanley Cup Final.
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