Lightning take 2-1 series lead in the Stanley Cup Final, Red Wings to announce their new head coach, updates on Niklas Backstrom and more. 

 

Lightning goalie Ben Bishop stands his ground against Blackhawks center Antoine Vermette.

Lightning goalie Ben Bishop stands his ground against Blackhawks center Antoine Vermette.

THE TAMPA TRIBUNE/CHICAGO TRIBUNE: Tampa Bay Lightning goalie Ben Bishop backstopped the his club to a 3-2 win over the Chicago Blackhawks in Game Three of the Stanley Cup Final. The Lightning lead the best-of-seven series 2-1.

Bishop, who seemed to be hampered by a lower-body injury throughout the game, made 36 saves (half in the first period) for the win. The Bolts fell behind 2-1 in the third on a goal by Blackhawks winger Brandon Saad but Ondrej Palat tied it 13 seconds later, setting the stage for Cedric Paquette’s winner late in the frame.

For the Blackhawks, it was a case of missed opportunities and inability to hold a lead. They had several  great chances in the first period, including Marian Hossa missing a wide-open Lightning net, but couldn’t capitalize. Their top players, Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, were once again neutralized by the Lightning defense.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blackhawks dominated the first period. They were re-energized through a mostly lackluster second period by killing off a two-man advantage for the Bolts, and after Saad made it 2-1 seemed on the verge of taking control of the game. Palat’s quick tying goal, however, seemed to shift momentum back to the Lightning. 

Give Bishop credit for hanging tough in this one, as he was obviously hobbled by what could be a groin injury. Credit also his teammates as the game went on for ensuring the Blackhawks didn’t get many opportunities to really test him after the first period. Bolts blueliner Victor Hedman, who set up two of his team’s goals (including the game winner), has been a force as this series progresses.

I’m  very surprised that Toews and Kane have been largely ineffective in this series, which is a credit to how well the Lightning are checking the duo. Now, it’s the Blackhawks facing a “must win” situation entering Game Four on Wednesday. Win, and the series is tied again. Lose, and they return to Tampa Bay down 3-1 with the Lightning having a chance to clinch the Stanley Cup on home ice.

DETROIT FREE PRESS: The Red Wings have called a press conference today to officially announce the hiring of Jeff Blashill as their new head coach.

STARTRIBUNE.COM: Michael Russo goes into greater detail regarding the Minnesota Wild’s options if goalie Niklas Backstrom’s latest surgery prevents them from buying him out in June. There’s a remote chance they might be able to buy him out in late-July if their only arbitration-eligible player (Jon Blum) files for arbitration. It’s also possible Backstrom, despite his injury status, could still agree to a buy out.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Considering the Wild’s limited cap space and need to re-sign Devan Dubnyk and Mikael Granlund, they may have been counting on buying out Backstrom to free up some salary room. It’ll be interesting to see how this situation unfolds.

NORTHJERSEY.COM: Despite the Devils’ need for young forwards, they could select a defenseman with the sixth overall pick at this year’s draft.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Hockey legend Gordie Howe is reported to be comfortable and happy following a second round of stem cell treatment.

NBC SPORTS: Check out the first part of a new documentary on former Boston Bruins forward Derek Sanderson.