Lightning Win Game 3, Take 2-1 Lead in Stanley Cup Final

The Chicago Blackhawks and Tampa Bay Lightning looked like they were headed for overtime in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final, but Cedric Paquette's goal late in the third period lifted the visitors to a 3-2 win and a 2-1 series lead. 

Brandon Saad and Brad Richards scored the goals for the Blackhawks, who lost in consecutive postseason games for the first time this year. 

The Blackhawks got off to a great start in the game, but it was Tampa Bay that got the scoring started. Johnny Oduya fell down in the neutral zone, and Victor Hedman took advantage as he rifled a pass up the ice onto the stick of Ryan Callahan, and the veteran winger fired a shot over Corey Crawford’s glove and just under the crossbar to give Tampa a 1-0 lead.

In the aftermath of that goal, Chicago’s attack intensified, but they were rebuffed at every turn. Both Marian Hossa and Patrick Kane had shots slide just wide of the far post on rebound opportunities, and Brandon Saad and Jonathan Toews were also denied chances by Ben Bishop as he settled in nicely to start the game.

The Blackhawks’ pressure finally resulted in the team getting a power play near the midpoint of the first period, and they took advantage with a goal to tie things up. Andrew Shaw camped out in front of the cage as the puck worked its way around the ice, and Brad Richards’ point shot evaded Bishop’s glove and knotted the game at 1-1.

More chances came in the final minutes of the period, but despite a 19-7 shot lead, the Blackhawks remained tied after 20 minutes of play.

Even with a hampered Bishop in net, the Blackhawks found themselves knocked back on their heels in the early stages of the second period. The Lightning had a couple of high quality chances, including one from Steven Stamkos in the slot, but Corey Crawford stood tall and kept the game tied up.

The Blackhawks got a power play after Johnny Oduya was upended by Nikita Kucherov, but they couldn’t convert. The poor performance ended up looking even more costly for the Blackhawks a few minutes later as Oduya left the team’s bench and headed back into the dressing room with an apparent injury.

With Oduya gone, Bryan Bickell and Saad both committed penalties late in the period, and the Lightning had a 5-on-3 power play for a minute and a half. Crawford was at his absolute best in those waning moments however, and the score remained tied at 1-1 with one period to go.

After a tremendous possession that saw a slew of shots and chances, the Blackhawks took the lead about four minutes into the third period. Duncan Keith found Marian Hossa down low, and the winger tossed a pass out to Saad in the slot. The winger fired a one-timer past Bishop to give the Hawks a 2-1 lead. 

Just 13 seconds later, the Lightning tied it up. Kucherov drove hard to the net and his shot was stopped, but Ondrej Palat was there to grab the rebound and stuff it home to make it a 2-2 game. 

With just over three minutes to go in the game, the Blackhawks saw their chances of winning slip away as the Lightning scored. Hedman made his second great pass of the night as he drove into the offensive zone, and Paquette did the rest as he directed a shot in past Crawford and put the Bolts up 3-2. 

Even with an empty net, the Blackhawks couldn't get any sustained pressure in the waning moments of the game, and they fell at home for just the second time in this postseason. 

The Blackhawks will look to even up the series at 2-2 on Wednesday night when they host the Lightning in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final. Puck drop is scheduled for 7 p.m., and the game can be seen on NBCSN. 

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