Saad, Blackhawks Even Series 2-2

2015 Stanley Cup Final Game 4 Recap

By: Nick Lanciani

Unknown-2It was a valiant effort for the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 4 of the 2015 Stanley Cup Final that ultimately paid out with a 2-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning at the United Center on Wednesday night.

Corey Crawford backstopped the Blackhawks to the win, having turned aside 24 of 25 shots faced. Brandon Saad’s game winning goal in the 3rd period ensured that the series would be tied, 2-2, heading back to Tampa on Saturday night for Game 5.

The Lightning, meanwhile, listed Ben Bishop as “day to day” with an injury, thereby making Andrei Vasilevskiy the 6th goaltender in history to make his first career playoff start in the Stanley Cup Final. Vasilevsky is also the youngest goalie to start in a Stanley Cup Final game since Patrick Roy, in 1993. Despite a 17 save effort on 19 shots against, Vasilevsky earned his 1st career playoff loss.

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

Entering the night Vasilevskiy and his backup for the night, Kristers Gudlevskis had a combined 9 career NHL wins. Vasilevskiy is not alone in losing his 1st career playoff start in a Stanley Cup Final game, as Jussi Markkanen was the most recent to do so in 2006 with the Edmonton Oilers- having recorded a 5-0 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes.

For Chicago, Kyle Cumiskey, was a healthy scratch on the blue line in favor of defenseman, Kimmo Timonen. It was Timonen’s first Stanley Cup Final appearance since Game 6 of the 2010 Stanley Cup Final, when he was a member of the Philadelphia Flyers who happened to lose that night at the Wachovia Center (now Wells Fargo Center), 4-3, in overtime to the Chicago Blackhawks.

22,354 people packed into the Madhouse on Madison witnessed an undisciplined 1st period as both teams took numerous penalties, as well as an unusual performance by the Blackhawks coming out of the gate. The Lightning quickly got 2 shots on goal, but the Blackhawks went over eight minutes without a shot on goal. At 8:17, Chicago recorded their first shot on goal. About a minute later, Brent Seabrook took the game’s first penalty.

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

The Blackhawks defenseman was sent to the sin bin for interference, resulting in a power play for Tampa. The Lightning were unable to score on the man advantage and took a penalty of their own at 11:41 of the 1st period, when Jason Garrison was sent to the box for interference.

A minute later, Chicago’s power play was cut short, in favor of 4 on 4 action as Jonathan Toews was guilty of a high stick that caught Victor Hedman up high.

At 16:33, Kimmo Timonen was sent to the box for hooking and Tampa Bay once again went on the power play in a scoreless game. The Lightning were unsuccessful and swapped man advantages with the Blackhawks at 19:08 of the 1st period, when Alex Killorn was sent to the penalty box for high sticking.

After twenty minutes of play Chicago and Tampa were scoreless, with the Lightning leading shots on goal 9-2. The Blackhawks had gone 0 for 2 on the power play in the period, while the Lightning went 0 for 3 on the man advantage.

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

Chicago began to take some control of the game flow in the 2nd period, eventually outshooting the Lightning 12-8 in the period.

Nearly seven minutes into the second frame, Jonathan Toews found the back of the net for the game’s first goal and his 10th of the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Patrick Sharp and Marian Hossa picked up assists on Toews’s goal.

Brent Seabrook found his way to the penalty box for his 2nd time of the night at 7:19 of the 2nd period for cross checking J.T. Brown along the wall in Chicago’s defensive zone. The Lightning, in keeping with the special teams trend on the evening, did not score on the ensuing power play.

The Blackhawks 1-0 lead did not last for long, like the rest of the games in the series so far, as 5:07 after Toews scored, Tampa forward, Alex Killorn fired home his 9th of the playoffs.

Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Killorn’s goal at 11:47 of the 2nd period was assisted by Valtteri Filppula and Steven Stamkos. Stamkos earned his first point since Game 5 against the New York Rangers in the 2015 Eastern Conference Finals with the assist and gave Killorn 3 goals in the last 5 games as a result.

The Hawks outshot the Bolts 8-0 after Killorn’s goal as the 2nd period came to an end. Chicago also dominated faceoff wins, 23-15, and led in blocked shots, 16-14.

Tampa still outshot the Blackhawks, 17-14, at the end of forty minutes of play and led in hits, 30-22. Both teams were powerless on the power play with Chicago still 0 for 2 and the Lightning having gone 0 for 4.

Steven Stamkos was quickly penalized to begin the 3rd period, for sending the puck out of play, over the glass, thus earning a delay of game penalty at 1:04 of the period. Chicago had already fired two quick shots on goal and looked as though they would soon be leading the shots on goal category, but the Lightning soon responded with a few shots of their own after killing off Stamkos’s penalty.

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

At 6:22 of the 3rd, Brandon Saad capitalized on a quirky play and pocketed his 8th goal of the postseason. Patrick Kane was credited with the lone assist on Saad’s goal, which had given the Blackhawks a 2-1 lead that they’d hold onto for the rest of the night.

Chicago survived Tampa’s desperate surge and the tremendous gain in the game’s already furious pace, staving off 6 shots on goal by the Lightning (and plenty more that went wide or were blocked). Tampa pulled Vasilevskiy with about a 90 seconds on the clock, in desperation, as Stamkos shot wide a couple of times and ran out of puck luck at the most inopportune winding seconds of the game.

Time expired and the Blackhawks took Game 4, 2-1. The Lightning led in shots on goal, 25-19, and hits, 46-34, while Chicago dominated faceoff wins, 38-20, and led blocked shots, 23-17. Chicago finished the night 0 for 3 on the power play and Tampa finished 0 for 4 with the extra man.

Unknown-1Game 4 was the fourth game in the series to be decided by 1 goal. The loss relegated the Tampa Bay Lightning to 8-4 on the road in the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs, despite having the worst regular season road record among teams that made the playoffs. With an extra day off between Games 4 and 5, Ben Bishop will have 4 days off between starts (assuming he starts in Game 5).

The Stanley Cup Final is tied 2-2 for the 5th time in 7 years, including all three Finals involving the Blackhawks in recent years (2010, 2013, and 2015). Game 5 will be Saturday night at 8 PM EST from Amalie Arena in Tampa, Florida. Television coverage will be on NBC in the United States and CBC in Canada.

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