We’re heading to the most recent Chicago Blackhawks series for the next entry on our countdown of top playoff wins under coach Joel Quenneville. That’s right, not all four of the wins against the Tampa Bay Lightning in the 2015 Stanley Cup Final rank in our overall top 10.
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There was one game in particular that will probably be less remembered than others, though it was a major part of Chicago’s bounceback from down 2-1 in the series. That game saw Andrei Vasilevskiy start in net for Tampa as Ben Bishop was dealing with what would later be revealed to be a torn groin. It was a tightly contested affair, but it certainly had its moments.
Note: Check out the previous entries in this series at the end of this post.
No. 47: 2015 Stanley Cup Final, Game 4
Chicago Blackhawks 2, Tampa Bay Lightning 1
It’s okay if this one isn’t fresh in your memory. Really. There were two other wins right after it, and they were the two biggest wins of the entire season. Of course, we don’t have those if this game doesn’t turn out positive for the Blackhawks, so while it’s not near the top of this countdown, it will always be an important win.
Tampa Bay outshot Chicago 25-19 in this game, and from the above video, you’d think that entire difference was created in the first period. Steven Stamkos, Alex Killorn and Anton Stralman had some of the best bids in the first 20 minutes, with Stralman’s chance at the top of the list. He took a nice backhander from Ondrej Palat and got in tight on Corey Crawford, forcing the goaltender to come out beyond the crease and make himself big for a breadbasket save. Tyler Johnson had a powerplay shot from the doorstep padded away by Crawford with less than three minutes to go in the period as well.
Da Windy City
Once the second period started, the Blackhawks started finding ways to just miss out on goals. That trend began about 5:30 into the middle frame when Andrew Desjardins threw the puck cross ice just inside the blue line to Johnny Oduya. The defenseman let the puck bank off the boards and onto his stick for a slapshot that bounded through traffic and hit the post to Vasilevskiy’s left.
The little black speck in the blue paint is pretty popular. (Screenshot from YouTube)
Luckily for fans of Doc Emrick, that wouldn’t be the first time the broadcaster would get to yell “HIT THE POST WITH THE SHOT,” or something to that effect. In fact, he got to make the call again a minute after Oduya’s near miss.
A board battle saw Jonathan Toews find Patrick Sharp streaking away from the mass of players fighting for the puck. As we’ve seen with a lot of Sharp breakaways, this one ended in sadness for Chicago. The same left post kept Sharp’s shot out of the twine and nearly gave Emrick a heart attack, from the sound of it.
Probably 10 seconds later, the Blackhawks found a sloppy way to beat Vasilevskiy. Marian Hossa had the puck at the blue line and winged a shot right past Sharp and on net. Vasilevskiy permitted a rebound that Sharp backhanded across the front of the crease to Toews, who got enough on his own shot to pot the puck off a shifting Vasilevskiy’s pads and into the net.
The Lightning responded with maybe the most confusing goal of the playoffs about five minutes later. Valtteri Filppula tried to feed Stamkos with a pass from the boards right in front of Crawford, but Stamkos was knocked down and the puck trickled behind the net. Filppula followed up by grabbing the puck and passing it from behind the net to Killorn short side. The pass and shot were so outrageously quick, it took a second to even realize Killorn had beaten Crawford to tie the game.
Was the puck wearing an invisibility cloak? (Screenshot from YouTube)
The Blackhawks had a few more good bids in the second, but it was in the third period when their next great chance would occur. A little more than six minutes in, Patrick Kane was doing Kane things with the puck between the circles. He skated it out of the area when he saw no lane and found Kimmo Timonen hanging out well above the circle to Vasilevskiy’s right. Whether it was because the Lightning didn’t think Timonen would actually shoot the puck or because they didn’t care, the Blackhawks’ elder statesman had all day to get off a shot. He wasn’t about to pass up that bid, and if it weren’t for the crossbar, he would’ve beaten Vasilevskiy clean.
The puck wound up out of play after Timonen’s shot, resulting in an offensive-zone faceoff for Chicago. Brad Richards won it, and Brandon Saad shoved his way through the scrum to capture the puck. He then made a move that helped him receive $36 million this offseason, skating the puck below the circle and back to the top of the crease for a shot attempt. When his first bid was snuffed out, Saad just picked up the puck again and backhanded it past Vasilevskiy to put the Blackhawks ahead 2-1.
Predictably, Tampa Bay had a good scoring chance just seconds later, with J.T. Brown firing a shot from well above the circles and getting a rebound off Crawford. Ryan Callahan took that for another shot, but Crow again came up with a stop. And despite some scary moments late, Crow and the Blackhawks hung on to close this one out and tie the series at 2 games apiece.
We all know what this result led to. In the grand scheme of things, we’re going to remember Games 5 and 6 of this series before we recall Game 4. But this was just another grind-it-out victory from a Blackhawks team full of them.
No. 48 | No. 49 | No. 50 | No. 51 | No. 52 | No. 53 | No. 54 | No. 55 | No. 56 | No. 57 | No. 58 | No. 59 | No. 60 | No. 61 | No. 62 | No. 63 | No. 64 | No. 65 | No. 66 | No. 67 | No. 68 | No. 69 | No. 70 | No. 71 | No. 72 | No. 73
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