By Brad Vandenberk
The Blackhawks found themselves lucky that they were able to get a split in Tampa Bay. The return to home ice on Monday where they are 7-1 in these playoffs was hopefully the spark that was required. The Bolts have been giving the Hawks fits with their speed. The Hawks do have their own knockout punch when it comes to their speed as well, but it seems like they have been on their heels for most of the game. There are 22,000 strong waiting to see their beloved Blackhawks at the UC during this Stanley Cup Final.
Ben Bishop did get the start in this one and limped his way to a 3-2 road win in the United Center which puts the Hawks playoff record to 7-2. It was a late goal with 3:11 left in the third period when Cedric Paquette beats Corey Crawford with a low snipe. There was no Cinderella story on this night as the Hawks fall 2-1 in the series giving up home ice advantage.
Bryan Bickell was at a place called Vertigo, and returned for this one sending Kris Versteeg back to the press box. Trevor van Riemsdyk made his playoff debut playing 9:01 and very involved while on the ice contributing with 1 shot on net and 1 hit. Patrick Kane and Marian Hossa returned to their regular spots next to Brad Richards and Jonathan Toews.
Hossa and Brandon Saad open the period with an early 2 on 1 igniting the UC. Crawford also gets some cheers making some quick saves. Just over 5 minutes in, Ryan Callahan is left open and able to walk into the Hawks zone uncontested. He blasts a shot over Crawford’s shoulder and bar down to make it 1-0 Bolts early. Hossa was a man on a mission, all over the puck. He gets tripped up in the slot looking at a wide open net. He shots wide and just when it looks like the Hawks are going to get their first power play, Saad gets booked for a cross check and we have some 4 on 4 hockey. Coach Q send out Teuvo Teravainen and Kane to entertain the crowd and entertain they did. It’s almost not fair to see how awesome these two will look together next season. Hawks start to dominate, out shooting Tampa Bay 18-5. Because of the speed Coburn takes another penalty for hooking Toews. The power play looks the best it has in a while and they make the Lighting pay. Richards fires a shot from the point and Bishop gets a piece of it with his glove, but not the whole thing, as it trickles past him 1-1. Bishop starts to show signs of some sort of left lower body injury as they Hawks pour on the pressure. The period ends with the Hawks owning the Lighting 19-7 in shots on net.
Crawford opens the first with a similar puck gaffe to his antics in game 2. The puck is fired in and it flips over his head. hits the post, finally Niklas Hjalmarsson bats it out of the crease. Good thing the beer crowd was still in line. Tampa Bay comes at the Hawks hard as they have been known to do in this series. They have the Hawks on their heels keeping Crawford busy. Crow even tries to pitch in and get a few pucks out of the zone but in the meantime almost getting scored on again. Hossa and Saad get another 2 on 1 and Bishop at this point looks really hurt wincing after every save. Just before the half way point of the period, the Hawks are granted another power play when Nikita Kucherov trips Johnny Oduya behind the play. The power play struggled to connect with Kucherov getting a breakaway chance right out of the box. Crawford flashes the pad to make the save. After Oduya was tripped he left for the dressing room in frustration. Now it’s time for what Hawks fan was hoping would be the momentum swing. Bryan Bickell gets called for roughing up Callahan. Then during the penalty kill, Saad breaks in on Bishop and gets a little to close running the big net minder over. He heads to the box for goaltender interference with Coach Q voicing his opinion. 5 on 3 for 1:26 was staring the Hawks in the face. So naturally the veteran group kills off both penalties and still have a slight edge in shots as the period ends 26-24. The Bolts owned the period 17-7.
The crowd cheers to open the final frame when Oduya emergences from the dressing room and returns to the game. Tampa comes out with speed once again testing Crawford. Hossa is an absolute monster tonight when he steels a puck and sprints toward the net, sending a perfect pass to Saad who can’t beat Bishop. The fourth line continues to shine with Andrew Shaw and Andrew Desjardins breaking in on a 2 on 1 and still Bishop hobbles to make the save. Finally the Hawks hard work pays off when Saad is found wide open in the slot whipping one past Bishop 2-1. Just as the Chelsea Daggered crowd was settling in their seats, Kucherov puts a shot on Crawford and Ondrej Palat squeezes in the rebound tying the game in 13 seconds 2-2. Coach Q puts Teuvo with Toews and Hossa which also looked a little unique but exciting. Paquette gets sprung for a breakaway and Crawford again makes the save with a sliding TVR on the back check. The Hawks start to get back to what they had in the first period, domination. Victor Hedman walks into the zone and virtually walks around Brent Seabrook and spots an open Paquette in front of Crawford, he didn’t miss this time giving the Bolts the 3-2 lead with 3:11 remaining. Crawford heads to the bench and the Hawks can’t tie the game with the extra attacker. Bishop cheers in a 3-2 victory.
-Hawks outshot the Lighting 38-32.
-Hawks go 1/2 on the power play with the Lighting going 0/2.
-Toews was 72% in the face off dot, Richards 57%, Vermette 50% and Kruger 43%.
-Keith led the entire Hawks organization in TOI with 31:37, Hjalmarsson 26:45. Vermette, Bickell and van Riemsdyk all played just over 9 minutes and Cumiskey had 7:38
-Hossa led the Hawks with 2 assists. Kane, Sharp and Toews combined for 0 points, which needs to change if the Hawks want to be successful.
-Oduya left at the 7:45 mark of the second period, but did return to open the third period.
-Game 4 is Wednesday night back at the UC.
Saad Toews Hossa van Riemsdyk Keith
Bickell Richards Kane Seabrook Hjalmarsson
Sharp Vermette Teravainen Cumiskey Oduya
Desjardins Kruger Shaw