(Photo: NHL Youtube)
While more than 22,000 Blackhawks fans were celebrating the third period go-ahead goal’s announcement at Chicago’s United Center, the Tampa Bay Lightning tied the score. With another third period goal, they’d ultimately take Game Three, stealing back the edge Chicago claimed with a Game One road victory in Tampa.
With the roar of the home crowd and the comfort of snatching one from the Lightning, plus questions about goalie Ben Bishop‘s health, the Blackhawks were favored leading up to Game Three.
And then about five minutes after puck drop, J.T. Brown passed in the defensive zone to Victor Hedman, who served Ryan Callahan a dish down the ice for an upper glove-side shot missed by goalie Corey Crawford and a 1-0 Lightning lead.
Later, as Braydon Coburn served a hooking penalty, the Blackhawks would tie the game with a power play goal 14:42 into the first.
Chicago outshot Tampa 19-7 in the first, but left the period with a 1-1 tie. Neither team scored in the second despite a 17-7 shot lead by the Lightning.
Then, 4:14 into the third, the Blackhawks would take the lead with a tic-tac-goal from Duncan Keith to Hossa to Saad for a shot past Bishop.
But, 13 seconds later, as the crowd watched replays and cheered the goal announcement, and as fans finished their high-fives at home, Ondrej Palat would answer with a gritty goal at the net assisted by Nikita Kucherov and Tyler Johnson.
It proved to be deflating for the Hawks.
“A weird play,” Crawford said.
“An unlucky goal,” Hossa said. “It happens.”
Coach Joel Quenneville called it a “great goal.”
And, the close 12-8 shot lead for Chicago in the third wasn’t enough for them to land a win.
Instead, the Lightning capitalized on their quick catchup.
With 3:51 remaining in regulation, Callahan passed to Hedman who skated through the neutral zone past the goal line then drop-passed to the center where Cedric Paquette shot into the open side of the net for a 3-2 lead.
With the remaining time, the Blackhawks pulled Crawford, but couldn’t score with the extra attacker.
Bishop made 36 saves on 38 shots while Crawford made 29 of 32.
Entering Game Four Wednesday night, the Lightning will have a 2-1 series advantage.
“We came here to get a win,” Lightning Winger Brenden Morrow said. “Now we’ve got to get greedy.”
But the Blackhawks aren’t giving up yet. After all, they were just down 2-1 in the Western Conference Final against the Ducks and they managed a comeback.
“Earlier in my career–I think Sharpie would agree, even Saader–the emotions are so high, so low,” Captain Jonathan Toews said. “One day you win a game in the first round, you get that feeling you’re going all the way to the Cup, nothing can stop you. The next day you lose, all of a sudden that thought crosses your mind, ‘Better luck next year.’
“I think now you have that experience, you’ve played a lot of those games, you realize you don’t have to kind of ride the roller coaster that way.”
This “core” of players since 2009 has fallen 2-1 in nine of 19 playoff series and, when winning Game Four, are 5-0. When falling behind 3-1 as they did in 2013 against the Red Wings, they’re 1-3.
According to the Chicago Tribune, the Blackhawks are 40-14 in Games 4-7 since Quenneville has coached. They’re 22-6 since 2013.
Quenneville has made some roster changes for Game Four.
Bryan Bickell, who in previous seasons turned up the heat for playoffs has not yet this year and has also been out with vertigo symptoms, will likely be a scratch with Kris Versteeg returning to the lineup.
The back end will look a little different as well. Kimmo Timonen, who played scarce minutes in previous series and has been scratched since early games in Anaheim, is expected back in the lineup.
“I just try to play my own game, play smart. I don’t want to make mistakes, cost the team goals,” Timonen told media. “The only thing I can say is I’ll enjoy the moment. There aren’t many moments I’ll get like this. This is my moment.”
Trevor van Riemsdyk, who returned from injury in Game Three, should play again as well.
Defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson was happy with van Riemsdyk’s performance Monday.
“He hasn’t been playing in a long time obviously, had two pretty big injuries,” Hjalmarsson said. “That was impressive. He made some really, really nice plays and showed patience and calmness with the puck.
“To just come in like that in the Stanley Cup Final, play the way he did, was nothing less than impressive. To be honest with you–he had a great game for us.”
Johnny Oduya, though he appeared injured in the last game, will likely play again in Game Four.
The Blackhawks, of course, are looking at the game as a must-win.
“I think the guys in the room, we want to be out there and win,” Seabrook said. “For whatever reason we play our best games when our backs are against the wall.”
It’s time for the stars to show up. Their city has.
(Photos: Blackhawks Facebook)
Because it’s the Cup.
Game 1: Blackhawks at Lightning (Amalie Arena) – 2-1 Blackhawks
Game 2: Blackhawks at Lightning (Amalie Arena) – 4-3 Lightning
Game 3: Lightning at Blackhawks (United Center) – 3-2 Lightning
Game 4: Lightning at Blackhawks (United Center) – 7:00 p.m. CT Wednesday, June 10 on NBCSN, CBC, TVA
Game 5: Blackhawks at Lightning (Amalie Arena) – 7:00 p.m. CT Saturday, June 13 on NBC, CBC, TVA
*Game 6: Lightning at Blackhawks (United Center) – 7:00 p.m. CT Monday, June 15 on NBC, CBC, TVA
*Game 7: Blackhawks at Lightning (Amalie Arena) – 7:00 p.m. CT Wednesday, June 17 on NBC, CBC, TVA
(As always, click the links for video clips or other information. Gifs via Stephanie Vail @myregularface)