Paquette Lifts Lightning Late in 3rd for 2-1 Series Lead

2015 Stanley Cup Final Game 3 Recap

By: Nick Lanciani

Unknown-1Ben Bishop and the Tampa Bay Lightning were unafraid of the United Center and the 22,336 Chicago Blackhawks fans inside as they pulled off a 3-2 win in Game 3 of the 2015 Stanley Cup Final on Monday night. Tampa now leads the series 2-1 heading into Game 4 on Wednesday night.

Bishop made 36 saves on 38 shots faced in the sixty minute effort, while losing goaltender, Chicago’s Corey Crawford, saved 29 of the 32 shots he faced. Cedric Paquette’s 3rd goal of the playoffs at 16:49 of the 3rd period was enough to be the game winning goal and steal a win in Chicago for the Lightning.

Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images
Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

Game 3 opened up with a frantic pace from opening puck drop. At 5:09 of the 1st period, Ryan Callahan sent one past Crawford for his 2nd of the playoffs and a 1-0 lead for Tampa. Callahan was awaiting entry in the offensive zone at the far blue line as Victor Hedman found him from the defensive end and sent a great pass up and across the ice, giving Callahan a clear shot to the net.

Hedman got his first of two assists on the night from Callahan’s 1st period goal and J.T. Brown registered his first assist of the playoffs on the goal as well. Tampa had been leading shots on goal, 5-3, by that point, but the Blackhawks were about to go on a shooting spree, without allowing a shot on goal by the Lightning, since Callahan’s goal.

It was the 3rd straight game in which Tampa scored first.

4 on 4 action saw some time at 8:12 of the opening frame as Tampa’s Braydon Coburn was sent to the box for tripping Marian Hossa and Chicago’s Brandon Saad saw the sin bin for cross checking Valtteri Filppula. Hossa missed a wide-open net as he was brought down by Coburn’s errant stick.

Coburn wouldn’t keep his name off the box score under penalties for long as he went back to the sin bin at 12:42 for hooking, as Coburn’s stick tugged on Saad’s jersey shortly after the two of them were released from the box minutes before. The Lightning nearly killed the penalty, but former Lightning star, Brad Richards, had other plans in mind.

Photo by Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images
Photo by Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images

Richards received a pass from Hossa in the high slot and fired the puck past Bishop with Andrew Shaw perfecting the screen in front.

The power play goal was the 3rd goal of the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs for Richards and was his first goal in the Stanley Cup Final since Game 6 of the 2004 Stanley Cup Final as a member of Tampa Bay against Calgary.

The 1st period ended with the scoreboard reading 1-1 and shots on goal, 19-7, in favor of Chicago. Tampa had double the hits than the Blackhawks (18-9) and led in blocked shots 9-4. The Blackhawks had a slight advantage in faceoff wins over the Lightning, 14-10. Chicago had also gone 1 for 1 on the power play in the first twenty minutes, whereas Tampa had yet to have had a power play opportunity on the night.

Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Penalties abounded in the 2nd period. Nikita Kucherov put Chicago on the power play after tripping Johnny Oduya 8:53 into the period. The Blackhawks were unable to convert on the man advantage. Tampa went on the power play at 15:18 of the 2nd period when Chicago forward, Bryan Bickell, was given a roughing penalty.

The Lightning then had a 5-on-3 advantage as Brandon Saad returned to the penalty box for his second time of the night, this time for goaltender interference at 15:52 of the period.

Despite tightening the shots on goal advantage, Tampa could not muster enough on the puck during the 1:26 of the 5-on-3 power play they had to beat Crawford. The Blackhawks killed both penalties and resumed full strength play, finishing the period with a 26-24 shots on goal advantage.

Although they trailed in shots at the end of the 1st period, the Lightning had a 17 shots on goal in the 2nd period, compared to Chicago’s 7 shots on goal.

It wasn’t long before the action really picked up in the 3rd period. Riding the momentum of end to end action, including an Antoine Vermette breakaway that was denied by Bishop, the Blackhawks didn’t waste time to get going and feed off of the energy of the crowd.

Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

At 4:14 of the 3rd, Brandon Saad snuck his 7th goal of the postseason past Ben Bishop with the help of Marian Hossa and Duncan Keith for a 2-1 Blackhawks lead.

But the Madhouse on Madison wasn’t shaking for long. 13 seconds later, Ondrej Palat answered with a goal of his own for the Lightning at 4:27 of the 3rd period. Kucherov and Tyler Johnson were credited with assists on Palat’s 8th of the playoffs.

The pair of goals were the 3rd fastest span of goals swapped between two teams in Stanley Cup Final history. Suddenly, the game was back to a tie, only this time it was 2-2.

Photo by Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images
Photo by Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images

The minutes began winding down, with the seconds ticking quickly, as each minute passed. After a stoppage shortly after the halfway mark of the period, Chicago was outshooting Tampa, 34-29.

With 3:11 remaining in the game, Cedric Paquette capitalized on a Blackhawks blunder and scored his 3rd of the postseason, with help from Hedman and Callahan. It was now a 3-2 lead for the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Per the NHL, 61.6% of playoff games this year have been either tied or within one goal entering the final 5 minutes of regulation and Game 3 was no exception.

Photo by Scott Audette/NHLI via Getty Images
Photo by Scott Audette/NHLI via Getty Images

What’s more is that 8 of the last 10 games between the Blackhawks and the Lightning have been decided by one goal dating back to 2011, and including all three of this year’s Stanley Cup Final games so far.

A little under two minutes left in regulation, Joel Quenneville pulled Crawford in hopes that an extra skater for the Blackhawks would be enough to at least salvage an overtime effort in front of their home crowd. Despite multiple chances on offensive zone faceoffs, Chicago was unable to tie the game and send it to overtime.

The Blackhawks finished the game with 38 shots on goal compared to the Lightning’s 32 shots on net and led faceoff wins 39-28. Meanwhile the Lightning led in hits, 46-27, and blocked shots, 19-14. Chicago was 1 for 2 on the power play for the night, while Tampa went 0 for 2 on the extra man advantage.

Jonathan Drouin was once again out of the lineup for Tampa in favor of nonfactor, Nikita Nesterov. For Chicago, Bryan Bickell made his presence known, but Trevor van Riemsdyk had a quiet game, as the two replaced David Rundblad and Kris Versteeg in the lineup.

Unknown-2Game 3’s final outcome marked the first time since 2010 that the first three games of the Stanley Cup Final were all decided by a goal. In 2010, Chicago beat Philadelphia in Game 1, 6-5, and 2-1 in Game 2. The Flyers defeated the Blackhawks 4-3 in overtime, in Game 3 of the 2010 Stanley Cup Final.

The fourth installment of the 2015 Stanley Cup Final will be Wednesday night at 8 PM EST in Chicago, live from the United Center on NBCSN in the United States and CBC in Canada. The Tampa Bay Lightning head into Game 4 with a 2-1 series lead over the Chicago Blackhawks.

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