After a seemingly crippling Game 1 loss in which they coughed up a lead late in the third period, the Tampa Bay Lightning have won back-to-back games in the Stanley Cup Finals to take a 2-1 lead over the Chicago Blackhawks.
The Lightning got a strong performance in Game 3 from Ben Bishop, who stopped 36 of 38 shots – this after exiting Game 2 twice for reasons that remain unknown.
“There (was) speculation (about) who was going to start (Game 3),” former NHL goalie and current NHL Network analyst Jamie McLennan said on CBS Sports Radio’s After Hours with Amy Lawrence, referring to Bishop and backup Andrei Vasilevskiy. “You’re wondering if there was a bathroom break for Bishop or if he was injured. Obviously everyone who watched the game, you could tell he was laboring. . . . (But) Tampa has a response. They’re really strong in the second period, they don’t force Ben Bishop to make 18 saves like he did in that first period and they’re able to battle and hang on in the third period. And you’re right. It’s all about resilience. Bishop, he wanted to fight through. The team responded for him.”
The Blackhawks took a 2-1 lead early in the third period on a goal by Brandon Saad.
Tampa Bay’s Ondrej Palat tied it 13 seconds later.
“They come right back and they get right back into the game,” McLennan said. “I thought Victor Hedman was outstanding in the game. He helps start that play on the third goal and obviously pushes the pace up, and (we see the) strength in numbers. You get the game-winning goal and they’re able to hang on.”
Cedric Paquette scored the game-winner with just under four minutes remaining. Bishop took it from there, making several key saves after the Blackhawks pulled Corey Crawford.
“This is a team that is incredibly resilient,” McLennan said. “Just when you think they’re out, they respond with a real gritty performance, a real tough road game and they steal back home ice from Chicago in a tough building. So good (for) them. It starts with their leader, Jon Cooper. When the bright lights come on, they seem to find a way to fight through it.”
McLennan, though, still has no idea what was – or is – wrong with Bishop. Groin? Hamstring? Whatever it is, McLennan of course didn’t buy Cooper’s in-game explanation that Bishop was laboring because he’s 6-7 and it takes him longer to get up than shorter goalies.
“I chuckled out loud when I saw that,” McLennan said. “And the one thing that people don’t know what Jon Cooper’s all about – he’s a terrific speaker, obviously being a lawyer by trade and an amazing coach, too. But he has fun with it.”
The Blackhawks, meanwhile, must respond Wednesday in Game 4. They also have to find a way to get Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews going. That duo has combined for zero goals and one assist in this series.
McLennan, however, isn’t overly concerned about that.
“Your goal-scorers go through these little funks where they’re up and down,” he said. “And even in tonight’s game, I believe Patrick Kane had three shots. Toews had four. I’d be more concerned if they weren’t getting good looks at the net. I think they’re going to find the back of the net through the law of averages. Where I’m concerned is if they’re not getting scoring chances and they’re not getting to the middle of the ice. Patrick Kane is a guy who creates something out of nothing. Jonathan Toews gets to the middle of the ice. He fights for every inch on the ice that he does receive. I think it’s just a matter of time for them, but you have to give full marks to the defensive core of the Tampa Bay Lightning.”