Smallest margins put Blackhawks on brink of Cup in Game 6

Jun 14, 2015, 12:18 AM
Tampa Bay Lightning right wing Nikita Kucherov (86) hits the goal post as he collides with Chicago ...
Tampa Bay Lightning right wing Nikita Kucherov (86) hits the goal post as he collides with Chicago Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford (50) during the first period of Game 5 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Final, Saturday, June 13, 2015, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
(AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Tampa Bay goalie Ben Bishop and his Chicago counterpart, Corey Crawford, both made atrocious mistakes less than a minute apart in Game 5 of this impossibly close Stanley Cup Final on Saturday night.

Bishop’s blunder ended up in his net when he collided with defenseman Victor Hedman and sent the puck to Patrick Sharp, who scored the Blackhawks’ first goal in a 2-1 victory.

Crawford gave the puck away to Nikita Kucherov moments earlier, but his blunder didn’t cost him — and Kucherov even got injured on the play.

The differences between the Blackhawks and the Lightning are so minuscule in this historically close Final that one mistake, one false stride, one flicker of fate has decided things. Chicago took advantage of one fewer mistake and took a 3-2 series lead on a 90-degree night in Tampa.

The Blackhawks won more than a game: If they get one more stroke of fate on their side, they’ll get to raise the Stanley Cup on their home ice Monday night.

“I think everyone is pretty excited about it,” Crawford said. “But we can’t get ahead of ourselves. There’s a lot of work to do here, and it’s going to be an even harder battle.”

Here are some things to contemplate while the series shifts to the United Center:

HAWKS AT HOME: Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith and the incumbent core of the Blackhawks’ last two championship teams raised the Stanley Cup on road ice in 2010 and again in 2013. They’ve got the chance to do it at home this time in front of the famously boisterous Chicago fans. A home clincher is particularly wonderful when that silvery trophy is involved, but only the Los Angeles Kings have experienced it since 2007.

ONE-GOAL GAMES: The first five games in the Final have been decided by one goal, the first time that’s happened in the NHL’s final series since 1951, when Montreal and Toronto did it. Neither team has led by more than one goal at any point in the series’ 300 minutes. The tension of those stakes has translated into heavy playing time for the Blackhawks’ top defensemen. Tampa Bay has spread out its minutes more equitably, but Victor Hedman still played 23:38 in Game 5. Keith has been tireless for most of the past two rounds, but he appears to be slowing ever so slightly.

CONFIDENT LIGHTNING: Much has been made of Tampa Bay’s inexperience on hockey’s biggest platform, but coach Jon Cooper and his players are confident they can force a seventh game, which would be their third of these playoffs. In addition to being 8-4 on the road, compared to 6-7 at home, the Lightning wiped out a 3-2 deficit to eliminate Detroit in the first round and also won Game 7 at Madison Square Garden against the New York Rangers in the Eastern Conference finals.

“I’ve probably overused this line during the playoffs, but I guess we’ve gone from an inexperienced playoff team to an experienced playoff team, and we’ve been in this position before just a month and a half ago,” Cooper said.

Four of the past seven times the Stanley Cup has been tied 2-2, the team losing Game 5 has rebounded to win the championship, including the 2004 Lightning.

STARS STILL STRUGGLING: Kane still doesn’t have a goal in the Stanley Cup Final. Toews still has just one goal. Tampa Bay captain Steven Stamkos has no goals in seven games. Playoff scoring leader Tyler Johnson has one goal in nine games. There’s still time for the best offensive players on either team to seize a game for themselves, but that time is running short.

KUCHEROV’S STATUS: If Kucherov, part of the high-scoring “Triplets” line that also features Johnson and Ondrej Palat, can’t play in Game 6, someone will need to step up to fill the void. Rookie Jonathan Drouin filled in for long stretches Saturday night, and Cooper even tried pairing Stamkos with Johnson and Palat for a while.

Kucherov has 10 goals and 22 points in 25 playoff games.

“It’s always tough. He’s a big part of our team and a big part of that one line we have there,” defensman Anton Stralman said. “But, it shouldn’t hurt us too much. … We have a deep team. We have guys that can step in and make plays.”

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

United States News

Money is exchanged at a food stand while workers wear face masks inside Grand Central Market on Wed...
Associated Press

US inflation slows from a 40-year peak but remains high

WASHINGTON (AP) — Falling prices for gas, airline tickets and clothes helped give Americans a slight break from the pain of high inflation last month, though overall price increases slowed only modestly from a four-decade high that was reached in June. Consumer prices jumped 8.5% in July compared with a year earlier, the government said […]
9 hours ago
FILE - Former National security adviser John Bolton gestures while speaking at the Center for Strat...
Associated Press

Iranian operative charged in plot to murder John Bolton

WASHINGTON (AP) — An Iranian operative has been charged in a plot to murder former Trump administration national security adviser John Bolton in presumed retaliation for a U.S. airstrike that killed the country’s most powerful general, offering hundreds of thousands of dollars to “eliminate” him, the Justice Department said Wednesday. Shahram Poursafi, identified by U.S. […]
9 hours ago
This April 28, 2021 booking photo provided by the Copiah County, Miss., Sheriff's Office shows DEA ...
Associated Press

In Mississippi, a trespasser, a killing and DEA meddling

CRYSTAL SPRINGS, Miss. (AP) — U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration Agent Harold Duane Poole was waiting with his semiautomatic service rifle — and an explanation — when deputies arrived at his sprawling wooded property on a warm spring night last year and found a bullet-riddled body near the driveway. A veteran of the DEA’s military-style commando […]
9 hours ago
Associated Press

School dean who shot student pleads guilty to federal charge

BOSTON (AP) — A former Boston high school dean already in prison for shooting a student he recruited to deal drugs has pleaded guilty to a federal gang-related charge. Shaun Harrison, 63, who was known by students at The English High School as “Rev,” pleaded guilty in Boston federal court on Tuesday to a count […]
9 hours ago
FILE - A sign is displayed outside the Internal Revenue Service building on May 4, 2021, in Washing...
Associated Press

AP FACT CHECK: GOP skews budget bill’s impact on IRS, taxes

Republican politicians and candidates are distorting how a major economic bill passed over the weekend by the Senate would reform the IRS and affect taxes for the middle class. The ” Inflation Reduction Act,” which awaits a House vote after passing in the Senate on Sunday, would increase the ranks of the IRS, but it […]
9 hours ago
...
Sponsored Content by Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Here are 4 signs the HVAC unit needs to be replaced

Pool renovations and kitchen upgrades may seem enticing, but at the forefront of these investments arguably should be what residents use the most. In a state where summertime is sweltering, access to a functioning HVAC unit can be critical.

Sponsored Articles

...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Ways to prevent clogged drains and what to do if you’re too late

While there are a variety of ways to prevent clogged drains, it's equally as important to know what to do when you're already too late.
...
Sanderson Ford

Don’t let rising fuel prices stop you from traveling Arizona this summer

There's no better time to get out on the open road and see what the beautiful state of Arizona has to offer. But if the cost of gas is putting a cloud over your summer vacation plans, let Sanderson Ford help with their wide-range selection of electric vehicles.
...
Carla Berg, MHS, Deputy Director, Public Health Services, Arizona Department of Health Services

Update your child’s vaccines before kindergarten

So, your little one starts kindergarten soon. How exciting! You still have a few months before the school year starts, so now’s the time to make sure students-to-be have the vaccines needed to stay safe as they head into a new chapter of life.
Smallest margins put Blackhawks on brink of Cup in Game 6