CHICAGO (AP) — The Stanley Cup Final is back in Chicago. And it brought along all sorts of questions.
It is unclear who will start in goal for the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 3 on Monday night. The Blackhawks could make a couple of changes to their lines and defensive pairings after a 4-3 loss on Saturday night left the best-of-seven series tied at a game apiece.
“The games are on the line from start to finish,” Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said Sunday. “I think there’s a lot of respect from our team what Tampa Bay is able to do, the quality of their team. They got some depth. We got to know going forward we got to be better than we were in the first two games.”
So far, it has been a lot of fun. Chicago rallied for a 2-1 victory in the opener on Wednesday night, with Teuvo Teravainen collecting a goal and an assist during an impressive third period. But the teams were just warming up for Game 2, when they combined for four goals in the second and Tampa Bay used a power-play score from Jason Garrison in the third to earn a crucial victory.
“There was a lot of up-and-down action,” Lightning defenseman Braydon Coburn said, describing the frenetic play Saturday night. “Everything happened quick out there as opposed to some other series and some other games. I thought that might have been one of the fastest ones we played so far in the playoffs. Both teams back and forth. Guys making plays quickly with the puck, just the pace up and down the ice.”
With the series shifting to the United Center for Game 3, here are a couple areas to watch Monday night:
BETWEEN THE PIPES: Lightning goaltender Ben Bishop left midway through the third period of Game 2. He returned for a brief stretch and then departed for good. Andrei Vasilevskiy made five saves to help close out the win.
There has been no word from the Lightning on why Bishop departed. Coach Jon Cooper said he could be available for Game 3.
“You’ll have a better indication, I guess, tomorrow at the skate,” Cooper said. “Although our morning skates are all optional anyway. Bish, notoriously he goes on sometimes during them and sometimes he doesn’t. I’m sure you’ll get a clue then tomorrow.”
SHAKING IT UP: Forward Bryan Bickell and defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk could be inserted into the Blackhawks’ lineup.
Bickell was hurt in Game 7 of the Western Conference finals. The Blackhawks haven’t disclosed the nature of Bickell’s injury, but the rugged forward said he passed the league’s concussion tests.
Van Riemsdyk is coming back from surgeries on his left knee and right wrist. The rookie has not played for the Blackhawks since Nov. 16.
MISSING STARS: Captains Jonathan Toews of the Blackhawks and Steven Stamkos of the Lightning have been shut down so far this series. It is the same story for Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane, who failed to register a shot on goal in Game 2.
“I think both teams have some very skilled players that the other team is paying close attention to,” Stamkos said. “That’s when you get into secondary scoring. You saw it in Game 1 for them. You saw it in Game 2 for us. That might be a trend going forward.”
HOME AND AWAY: The Blackhawks, who are going for their third Stanley Cup title in the last six seasons, are 26-5 in their last 31 home playoff games, including a 7-1 record this year. But the Lightning have won seven of their 10 road playoff games, including three victories at Madison Square Garden in the Eastern Conference finals against the Rangers.
“I think our fans will be excited to get back,” Toews said. “This is where they’ve wanted to be all year. You see those signs, ‘Bring back the Cup.’ Everyone has been waiting for this moment.”
CLOSE, VERY CLOSE: Seven of the last nine games between the Lightning and Blackhawks have been decided by one goal.
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