Things look awfully tenuous for the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 5, especially with Nikita Kucherov still MIA. A tying goal can really allow some sunshine to sneak through, though.
The Bolts’ aggressiveness paid off against the Chicago Blackhawks in the second period, as Jason Garrison eventually sent this outstanding pass to Valtteri Filppula, who managed to settle the puck down enough to tuck it in:
Just like that, the game is tied 1-1; the Lightning drew a penalty that didn’t result in a goal, yet it feels like the tenor of Game 5 just changed. At least for a stretch.
While we get closer to deciding a Stanley Cup champion, the 2015 Calder Cup winner has already been determined, as the Manchester Monarchs beat the Utica Comets 2-1 to win the series in Game 5.
The Monarchs are the Los Angeles Kings’ AHL affiliate while the Comets serve that role for the Vancouver Canucks.
Vincent LoVerde and Adrian Kempe found the net for the Monarchs while Patrik Bartosak ended up being the winning goalie. Meanwhile, Jacob Markstrom & Co. couldn’t get the job done for the Comets.
Cal O’Reilly scored for Utica with an empty net and 14 seconds remaining, but the Comets’ comeback attempt ultimately fell short on Saturday night.
Yikes, just yikes.
The first period of Game 5 has not gone well for the Tampa Bay Lightning. To start things off, the Chicago Blackhawks really carried the play early.
Things got rocky when both goalies suffered through puckhandling mishaps, yet the Lightning came out limping in both instances.
First, Nikita Kucherov nearly pounced on a Corey Crawford blunder, only to bash his shoulder into the post.
What came next was even worse, though. Ben Bishop and Victor Hedman clearly had a communication breakdown, as Hedman’s touch threw Bishop off, they both collided and Patrick Sharp scored the easiest goal you can imagine in this scenario:
It was a bad decision by Bishop, especially considering his shaky health. The best news for Tampa Bay is that as rough as this situation is, it’s still just 1-0.
Other than that? Yeah, that was pretty bad.
After a typical run of secrecy, Ben Bishop will be the Tampa Bay Lightning’s Game 5 starter.
We still don’t know what, exactly, is ailing the 28-year-old. Many believe he’s ailing on his left side. We are unlikely to find out for sure until after the Stanley Cup is raised. Andrei Vasilevskiy is available to step in if Bishop cannot finish Game 5, though.
Bishop was apparently the one to make the call to miss Game 4, as agonizing as that decision was.
He remarkably won Game 3 despite his limited mobility, stopping 36 out of 38 shots by the Blackhawks in an impressive showing of resiliency.
Overall, he has a .919 save percentage in the playoffs and has especially impressed as the games have gotten bigger. (In all three instances in which Tampa Bay eliminated an opponent in this posteason, Bishop notched a shutout).
Here’s a (subjective) side-by-side comparison of the two:
In other lineup notes, Jonathan Drouin draws back into the mix, sending Nikita Nesterov to the press box. The Lightning return to a typical skating setup after multiple games rolling with 11 forwards and seven defensemen.
Oh, and here are the officials:
It’s been a back-and-forth, sometimes strange Stanley Cup Final, but we’ll know for sure that one of the Chicago Blackhawks and Tampa Bay Lightning will be within a win of winning it all after Game 5.
What we don’t know yet: will Ben Bishop be in net for the Bolts, or will it be Andrei Vasilevskiy? Might there be other lineup surprises heading into the action?
Either way, you can enjoy coverage before and after the contest on NBCSN, while NBC carries Game 5 itself. The action can also be streamed via NBC Sports Live Extra.
Game 5 (NBC)