Lightning edge Blackhawks, 3-2, take 2-1 lead in Stanley Cup Finals
(Associated Press) CHICAGO – So much for Ryan Callahan’s quiet postseason. The veteran forward is making a lot of noise in the Stanley Cup Final.
Callahan had a goal and an assist in Tampa Bay’s 3-2 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 3 on Monday night. He has four points in the series after totaling four points in his first 19 games in the playoffs.
“He’s a gamer,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. “That’s the word. He’s a gamer.”
Callahan was acquired in a 2014 trade that sent Martin St. Louis to the New York Rangers in a rare exchange of team captains. He then re-signed with Tampa Bay after the season.
Callahan missed Game 6 of the Lightning’s second-round series against Montreal after he had an emergency appendectomy. But he returned in time for the opener of the Eastern Conference finals against New York and scored his first goal of the playoffs in Game 6 against the Rangers.
“No secret why he was captain of the New York Rangers,” Cooper said. “You need guys that can play the 200 feet and make sacrifices for the team. When things aren’t going well personally or statistically, they find a way. It’s no secret with the acquisition of Ryan, believing in what we were doing, so he re-signed here, getting all those other guys that have been to the dance before, that’s a big reason why we’re here.”
Callahan got a terrific stretch pass from Victor Hedman and sent a big drive over Corey Crawford’s left shoulder at 5:09 of the first in Game 3. It was the fourth straight time that Tampa Bay got the first goal.
Callahan also had an assist on Cedric Paquette’s winning goal at 16:49 of the third, capping a big night for his line as the Lightning grabbed a 2-1 lead in the final.
“We put a lot of pressure on ourselves going into this series,” Callahan said of his line. “We knew we had to contribute more if we’re going to have success against a very talented Chicago team. So far, we’ve done that, but we’ve accomplished nothing yet. Our production and our defense has to continue.”
Brad Richards and Brandon Saad scored for the Blackhawks, and Corey Crawford finished with 29 stops. Marian Hossa had two assists after he missed a golden opportunity in the first period.
“I think we have a lot of confidence in our team,” defenseman Duncan Keith said. “Obviously we don’t like being down, but we’ve been down many times before. I think, like I said, once we tighten up on certain things we know that we’re going to get a little more offense when we’re better defensively too.”
Here a couple more things to watch heading into Game 4 on Wednesday night:
MISSING STARS: Chicago captain Jonathan Toews and teammate Patrick Kane have combined for one point so far in the series. The Blackhawks need more production from their biggest stars to turn away the high-scoring Lightning.
GUTSY EFFORT: Ben Bishop made 36 saves for the Lightning after he was questionable coming into the game. The 6-foot-7 goaltender left two different times during the third period of Tampa Bay’s 4-3 victory in Game 2 on Saturday night. The team has not provided a reason for his twin departures, but he appeared to be dealing with some sort of groin or leg injury as he struggled to get up and down for much of Game 3.
“He was huge for us tonight,” Hedman said. “There was a little bit of adversity going into tonight, but I think he showed how good he was and how healthy he is.”
ODUYA’S NIGHT: Blackhawks defenseman Johnny Oduya missed the last part of the second, but returned for the start of the third period. Any injury for one of Chicago’s top four defensemen could play a pivotal role in the series.
“We’ll see,” coach Joel Quenneville said when asked about Oduya after the game. “We’ll see tomorrow how he presents.”
AN UNCOMFORTABLE POSITION: The winning team has rallied in each game. Chicago trailed 1-0 before scoring two goals in the third in Game 1. Tampa Bay was down 2-1 in the second period of Game 2, and 2-1 in the third period of Game 3.
A RARE HOME LOSS: Chicago dropped to 7-2 at home in the postseason. The Blackhawks have lost just six of their last 32 home playoff games.
“Just a couple of little bad habits that ended up hurting us,” Toews said. “We’re all responsible for that.”