CBS Sports' Chris Peters dubs the Chicago Blackhawks' 2-1 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 5 of the 2015 NHL Stanley Cup Final as the "most exciting overall game" of the series.
The Chicago Blackhawks' 2-1 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 5 of the 2015 NHL Stanley Cup Final on June 13 has been the most exciting.
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This was what CBS Sports' Chris Peters dubbed that particular game in his June 13 article. Both teams enjoyed stretches when they controlled momentum of the game. Both of those featured goals from both the Blackhawks and Lightning.
The first one was when the Blackhawks' Patrick Sharp scored on an uncontested goal with 6:11 in the first period after Lightning goaltender Ben Bishop collided with his own teammate Victor Hedman for a 1-0 lead.
Tampa Bay came right back when Valterri Flippula scored off an assist from Jason Garrison. However, it was Chicago which had the final say when the Blackhawks' Antoine Vermette scored just two minutes into the third period for the final tally, per CBS Sports.
Peters considers Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford slamming Lightning right wing Nikita Kucherov, his team's second-leading scorer, into the left goal post during the first period as the turning point of the game. Kucherov injured his shoulder and didn't check back onto the ice afterward.
Peters says losing someone like Kucherov "throws things off." The Lightning's most effective offensive line consisting of Kucherov, Tyler Johnson and Ondrej Palat wasn't as deadly as it was in the past few playoff games.
Peters foresees Tampa Bay having a difficult time bouncing back if Kucherov sits out the remaining games in the Stanley Cup Final.
ESPN's Pierre LeBrun reported on Sunday it's possible for Kucherov to play in Game 6.
"He's in considerably better shape today than he was last night," Lightning head coach Jon Cooper told LeBrun after his team arrived in Chicago on June 14.
Lightning team captain Steven Stamkos told ESPN that Kucherov, who has 10 goals and 22 points in the postseason, has been a big part of the team's success:
"Kuch has been a huge part of why we've been successful, he's been clutch and scored big goals, hopefully he' back. We're hoping that he's back but if not we've got guys who are capable of getting the job done."
One of the several takeaways the CBS Sports report lists is the third- and fourth-line production of the Blackahwks. If they continue contributing the way they have, the production of the first two lines may become irrelevant.
Peters specifically singles out the third line of Kris Versteeg, Antoine Vermette and Teuvo Teravainen, which was responsible for the decisive goal in Game 5, as Chicago's "best and most consistent line."
As for Chicago's fourth line of Andrew Shaw, Andrew Desjardins and Marcus Kruger, Peters says it was also just as lethal. Crawford, who finished with 32 saves, also deserves some credit for the Game 5 victory.
His counterpart, Bishop, finished with 29 saves. Peters wonders if he can sustain the pace he's been on considering the goal he allowed to Sharp after colliding with Hedman. Bishop has been showing some inconsistency, prompting Peters to say he "is not 100 percent."
Cooper told LeBrun on Sunday that Bishop, who sat out Game 4 due to an undisclosed injury, is "feeling much better."
The Blackhawks now have an opportunity to win the Stanley Cup on their home ice for the first time in 77 years. Chicago has a renewed sense of urgency which doesn't bode well for Tampba Bay, which has to win at the United Center on Monday to force a deciding Game 7.
To make things worse for the Lightning, the Blackhawks' core group of seven players from their 2010 and 2013 Stanley Cup-winning teams have never lost a Cup-clinching game during that span, per CBS Sports.
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