The Chicago Blackhawks move within a game of winning the Stanley Cup, plus updates on Zdeno Chara, Jim Rutherford, Tony Granato and more.
CHICAGO SUN-TIMES/THE TAMPA TRIBUNE: Antoine Vermette scored the game-winning goal (his second of the series and third of the playoffs) to lift the Chicago Blackhawks to a 2-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game Five of the Stanley Cup Final. The win puts the Blackhawks up 3-2 in the series, with an opportunity to win the Stanley Cup in Chicago on Monday. Patrick Sharp also scored for the Blackhawks, as a collision between Lightning goalie Ben Bishop and his defenseman Victor Hedman gave Sharp a wide-open net to score into. The Lightning also lost sniper Nikita Kucherov to an apparent shoulder injury when he collided with a goal post after tripping over Blackhawks netminder Corey Crawford in the first period.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bishop’s blunder will be considered by some observers as the series turning point, but the Lightning did rally to tie the game. However, they couldn’t get the go-ahead goal. The real reasons why the Blackhawks are in a position to win the Cup on Monday is their depth, experience and yes, the clutch goaltending of Corey Crawford. Sure, Crawford’s had his share of adventures in this series and given up a couple of weak goals, but when the ‘Hawks need him most, he’s come through. The Lightning now face a daunting task of tying this series and forcing Game Seven without Kucherov, with captain Steven Stamkos struggling to score and on the Blackhawks home ice. This will be a significant challenge for the Bolts.
OTTAWA SUN: Boston Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara isn’t thinking of retirement. The 38-year-old blueliner intends to play out his contract, which expires at the end of the 2017-18 season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The obvious question is whether Chara will do so with the Bruins. Some Boston-area pundits believe the Bruins should try to trade their captain, but he’s got a full no-movement clause, giving him complete control over his future in Boston.
THE DETROIT NEWS: Red Wings assistant coach Tony Granato is expected to return with the club next season.
TRIBLIVE.COM: The moves made by Pittsburgh Penguins GM Jim Rutherford in the coming weeks could define his legacy with the club.
THE OREGONIAN: Will billionaire Paul Allen, owner of the NBA’s Portland Trailblazers, bring an NHL franchise to Portland?
SPECTOR’S NOTE: This question’s been asked since the late-1990s, but Allen hasn’t shown much interest. If an NHL franchise is placed in Seattle, putting one in Portland becomes more of a long shot.
NHL.COM: The Manchester Monarchs (farm team of the LA Kings) defeated the Utica Comets (farm team of the Vancouver Canucks) in five games to win the AHL Calder Cup championship.