Lightning defeat Blackhawks to tie Stanley Cup Final, plus updates on Daniel Briere, Mike Fisher, Patrick Kaleta and the NHL Draft Combine.
THE TAMPA TRIBUNE/CHICAGO TRIBUNE: Jason Garrison’s third-period power-play goal held up as the game winner as the Tampa Bay Lightning edged the Chicago Blackhawks 4-3 to tie the Stanley Cup Final at a game apiece. Lightning backup Andrei Vasilevskiy got the win in relief of starter Ben Bishop, who left the game twice in the third period for reasons coach Jon Cooper declined to comment on post-game.
Tyler Johnson, Nikita Kucherov and Cedric Paquette also scored for Tampa Bay, while Andrew Shaw, Teuvo Teravainen and Brent Seabrook tallied for the Blackhawks. Patrick Sharp, whose back-to-back third-period penalties led to Garrison’s game-winning goal, blamed himself for the loss, while ‘Hawks goaltender Corey Crawford acknowledged allowing two weak goals which changed the momentum of the game.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bishop’s status overshadowed what was an otherwise entertaining game, which saw plenty of end-to-end action and good scoring chances for both clubs. Cooper’s unwillingness to address Bishop’s situation has given rise to speculation over his condition, ranging from illness to dehydration to an injury. Hopefully his status will be clarified either today or tomorrow. The Lightning’s “Triplet Line” finally got on the board and made a difference, but ‘Hawks superstars Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane have scarcely made a dent on the scoresheet thus far. Toews had an assist in Game Two while Kane failed to generate a shot on goal.
LA PRESSE: Colorado Avalanche forward Daniel Briere is pondering his future, which could include retirement for the 37-year-old. He’s currently 27 games shy of the 1,000 game mark.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Briere’s performance has been in significant decline over the past four seasons as age and injuries have caught up with him. I doubt he’ll find any takers for his services as an unrestricted free agent. Hopefully, he’ll be able to continue his NHL career in an off-ice role.
THE TENNESSEAN: The Nashville Predators and center Mike Fisher are making progress in contract talks. Fisher is eligible for UFA status on July 1 but both sides hope to work out a deal. He’s completing a two-year, $8.4 million deal.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Given Fisher’s age (35) and personal life (he’s married to country singer Carrie Underwood), I expect he’ll re-sign a two-year deal for perhaps just under $4 million annually to stay in Nashville.
THE BUFFALO NEWS: Connor McDavid may be projected as the first overall pick in the upcoming NHL Draft, but it was Jack Eichel who dominated the Draft Combine in Buffalo.
NBC SPORTS: Contract talks between the Buffalo Sabres and pending UFA right wing Patrick Kaleta are expected to begin this week.