ESNY

With their 2-1 win last night over the Lightning, Chicago takes a 3-2 lead back home for Monday night’s Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final.

By Patrick Comia

The Blackhawks are one win away from capturing the Stanley Cup for the third time in six seasons.

Last night, they took a 3-2 series lead in the 2015 Stanley Cup Final with a 2-1 win over the Lightning, making for a wild Game Six showdown on Monday.

Questions about Ben Bishop starting for the Lightning were quickly put to rest, as he led his team onto the ice.

But, it might have been for the last time this season, as the Lightning are on the verge of saying goodbye to a great playoff run this season. Bishop seemed to benefit from the two days in between Games Four and Five. He showed no signs of being injured, as he was tested early, having to make 14 saves in the opening 20 minutes.

However, not all was well for the netminder. A gaffee, miscue, or whatever you want to call it by Bishop and fellow teammate Victor Hedman caused the Lightning to go down 1-0 early. The Lightning netminder came out far from his crease to play the puck in his team’s zone. Hedman was making an attempt to clear the puck away from danger.


Then, the unthinkable happened. The two players ran into each other, like two ships colliding in the night. Blackhawks forward Patrick Sharp became the recipient of a Benny Hill-like blunder by the two players and did a layup with the puck to open the scoring at 13:49.

The Lightning did have their chances early in the period. A gaffe by Blackhawks netminder Corey Crawfod almost cost his team a goal, when he played the puck behind his net. He somehow misplayed the puck, giving to Lightning’s forward Nikita Kucherov.

Fortunately, Crawford was able to dive and stop the shot. Unfortunately for Kucherov and the Lightning, the forward would not return to the game after crashing into the goal post on the same play.

An appropiate song blaring over the Amalie Arena speakers last night was Queens of the Stone Age’s No One Knows. That basically summed up the play of both goaltenders in the first period.

After giving up the miscued goal, the Lightning appeared to tighten down and started taking it to the Blackhawks, as if an angry spirit reached out and touch them. They were hitting anything that had a white jersey and finished the night 37-15, out checking the Blackhawks by more than 20 hits.

One of the Blackhawks stars was being neutralized all game and never factored into the scoring. Superman himself Patrick Kane was shawdowed all night by Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman. Wherever Kane went, Hedman would follow. He would get in his shooting lane, cause Kane to give up the puck early, and left little room for him to maneuver. You could say Hedman was Kane’s kryptonite.

But as luck would have it, Kane wasn’t needed by the end of the game. After Chicago failed to convert on their power play opportunity in the second period, Valterri Filppula tied the game. After keeping the puck alive by Anton Stralman in the Lightning’s offensive zone, fellow defenseman Jason Garrison made a pass across the center of the ice to Filppula.

He corralled the puck and put it past the out-stretched arm of the Chicago netminder.

Throughout last night’s game, you could see the difference in play between the two teams. Blackhawks with their controlled puck play and workman-like attitude served them well.

They showed little to no panic or appeared rattled when the Lightning pressured them in their defensive zone. Perhaps, that was the reason behind their win tonight. Behind Crawford’s strong presence in net and the team supporting each other on both sides of the ice, they played like the veteran champions that they are.

Shortly into the third period, Antoine Vermette scored the game-winning goal. At the 18:00 minute mark, he put in a weak rebound that was put in front of the net by Kris Versteeg. Versteeg intially drove the puck on Bishop, after scooping up a loose puck pushed forward by the eventual goal scorer Vermette.

If the Blackhawks finish the journey towards a championship, it would be the first time in 77 years they would have won the Stanley Cup on home ice.

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