Tag: Valtteri Filppula


Vermette comes up big again, ‘Hawks take 3-2 series lead


TAMPA — Antoine Vermette hasn’t scored much this postseason.

But when he has, he’s made it count.

Vermette came up large once again on Saturday night, scoring his third game-winning goal of the playoffs to give Chicago a 2-1 victory in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final, and a 3-2 series lead over the Lightning in the process.

Vermette, one of Chicago’s pickups at the trade deadline, has gone from maligned to magnificent in the span of a few weeks. Tonight’s goal, banged in off a Kris Versteeg rebound two minutes into the third period, wasn’t just his third-game winner — it was his third game-winner in the last nine contests.

Yep, safe to say No. 80 has developed something of a knack for big goals. Previously, he notched the deciding tally in Game 1 against Tampa Bay and, in the Western Conference Final against Anaheim, scored a double-OT winner in Game 4.

Not bad for a guy that opened the playoffs as a healthy scratch.

Vermette wasn’t Chicago’s lone clutch performer in Game 5, though. Corey Crawford — who’s faced his fair share of scrutiny this postseason as well — allowed just one goal for the second consecutive contest and, over his last 120 minutes of action, has now stopped 55 of 57 shots for a .965 save percentage. The ‘Hawks tender also saved his best for last, making 15 saves in the third period.

While Crawford was stellar at one end, Ben Bishop had his issues at the other.

Back in goal after missing Game 4 to an undisclosed ailment, Bishop made an egregious judgement call by colliding with Victor Hedman midway through first period while trying to play a puck, paving the way for Patrick Sharp to score one of the easiest goals of his career:

Tampa Bay erased Bishop’s gaffe courtesy Valtteri Filppula’s goal midway through the second period, his fourth of the playoffs and first of this series. But Filppula’s marker was the Bolts’ lone bit of offense on the night; with the club having scored just twice over its last two games, there will almost certainly be pressure to score more as the team now heads to Chicago, where the ‘Hawks will look to win the Cup at home for the first time since 1938.

The ‘Hawks will hope tonight’s win follows in the historical trend of Game 5 winners. Since 1939, the winner of Game 5 after a split of the opening four contests of the Final has captured the Stanley Cup 16 of 23 times, a success rate of nearly 70 percent.

The Lightning, however, will hope to lean on a different piece of history. Recently, there have been four teams to lose Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final, yet go on to win it all — and one of them was the 2004 Lightning, the first and only championship team in franchise history.


Nikita Kucherov left tonight’s game in the first period with a suspected shoulder injury, and didn’t return… With his goal, Sharp moved just three back of Steve Larmer (45G) for fifth all-time among Blackhawks playoff goalscorers… More good history for the Lightning: the club that has lost Game 5 after a split of opening 4 games of the Final has rebounded to win the #StanleyCup in 4 of past 7 occasions.

Video: Filppula connects on brilliant pass to tie Game 5

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.

Video: Blackhawks get first goal, but lead doesn’t last

Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith


That’s likely the reaction for the Chicago Blackhawks and their fans. Jonathan Toews gave Chicago its first 1-0 lead of the 2015 Stanley Cup Final in the second period of Game 4:

If you’re just floating in, it probably seems like same old, same old for Toews. It’s been a little frustrating lately, though, as Chicago drew criticism for a slow first period.

They also drew iron a couple times before that inspirational goal:

One goal later, the outlook improves greatly for Chicago. If this series is teaching us anything, it’s that the Tampa Bay Lightning could easily strike back quickly, though.

Update: Yup, that lead did not last very long. Valtteri Filppula made a tremendous pass that Alex Killorn snapped into Chicago’s net to tie things up 1-1:

Let’s just say it won’t do Trevor van Riemsdyk any favors:

Short-lived leads almost seem expected at this point, though, right?

Video: Timonen basically gets body-slammed

2015 NHL Stanley Cup Final - Media Day

Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final has been a bumpy ride so far for Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Kimmo Timonen.

During the first period, Timonen took a hooking penalty on Valtteri Filppula, yet it was the penalty he drew that really made for a memorable visual.

There’s a remarkable cross-section between professional wrestling and hockey fans, so here’s the question: what move best describes the collision Timonen was in here?

Here’s one submission from Puck Daddy’s Greg Wyshynski:

Either way, many believe that it will be an adventure whenever the veteran is on the ice.

Update: He didn’t get much time to thrive or struggle in the middle frame, either:

Home record, depth scoring top list of Lightning concerns

New York Rangers v Tampa Bay Lightning - Game Seven

TAMPA — Despite having made it all the way to the Stanley Cup Final, the Tampa Bay Lightning have been a wildly inconsistent team at home during these playoffs.

Of the Lightning’s five home losses (against five home victories), four have been by four goals. In the first round, there was a 4-0 defeat to Detroit; in the second, they lost 6-2 to Montreal; and in the Eastern Conference Final, they lost 5-1 and 7-3 to the Rangers.

So, with home-ice advantage over the Blackhawks, captain Steven Stamkos wants the Lightning to have the same “mentality” at Amalie Arena that they’ve had on the road, where they’ve gone an impressive 7-3 in the postseason.

“It’s being okay with a tight game early on, not feeling the pressure of playing at home or feeling the need to put on a show for your fans or for your family and friends in the stands,” said Stamkos. “We’ve been fine with tight games on the road because we know we’ll find a way in the end. We’ve shown that we can do that. We have to find a way to have that same mentality at home.”

Coach Jon Cooper didn’t disagree with his captain’s take.

“I think sometimes at home, especially against the Rangers, we fell behind early (and) we just tried to chase the game,” he said. “Do we get caught up in our atmosphere, the crowd, everything that’s going on? We might.”

That said, Cooper noted that the Lightning went 32-8-1 at home during the regular season, and it was their 18-16-7 road record for which they “got a little bit maligned.”

“As it turns out, if it wasn’t for our road play, I wouldn’t be sitting here right now,” he said.

Whether at home or away, one thing the Lightning could really use is more scoring from forwards not named Stamkos, Alex Killorn, Valtteri Filppula, Tyler Johnson, Nikita Kucherov, or Ondrej Palat.

Those six comprise Tampa Bay’s top two lines. Combined, they’ve scored 45 goals.

The rest of the forwards have combined for just four goals.

“I think we feel real fortunate to be where we are with laying it on the shoulders of six guys basically,” said veteran winger Brenden Morrow, who has no points in 18 playoff games. “We need to find somebody else. We need scoring contributions from a lot of other people now.”

The obvious candidate is Ryan Callahan, the $34.8 million winger who has just one goal on 39 shots in the playoffs. Brian Boyle, with just one goal on 31 shots, is another veteran who’s had trouble putting the puck in the net.

Related: Fifteen years later, Morrow gets another shot at the Cup