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Three keys for Ducks, Blackhawks to winning Game 5

Shawn Roarke - Director, Editorial

ANAHEIM – The Chicago Blackhawks and Anaheim Ducks have played a lot of mentally taxing and physically demanding hockey already in the Western Conference Final.

Two of the first four games took more than one overtime to settle. To make matters more difficult, each of those marathon games came the night before a travel day.

The Blackhawks won Game 2 3-2 in the third overtime to even the series at 1-1 the night before the series moved to Chicago. Each team flew to the Windy City less than 12 hours after Marcus Kruger scored the overtime winner the night before.

Saturday, in Game 4, Antoine Vermette was in the right place at the right time to give the Blackhawks a 5-4 win at United Center at 5:37 of the second overtime, evening the series at 2-2.

But neither team believes fatigue will be an issue in what is now a race for two more wins in the best-of-7 series, beginning Monday at Honda Center (9 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports).

Dennis: Commitment to defense sparked Lightning

Adam Kimelman - Deputy Managing Editor

For additional insight into the Eastern Conference Final, has enlisted the help of Chris Dennis to break down the Tampa Bay Lightning. Dennis will be checking in throughout the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Dennis spent 10 seasons with the Toronto Maple Leafs, including the past two as an assistant coach under Randy Carlyle and Peter Horachek. Prior to that he was the Maple Leafs' video coach for eight seasons.

After allowing five goals in consecutive games of the Eastern Conference Final, the Tampa Bay Lightning were committed to being better defensively in Game 5 against the New York Rangers on Sunday.

And in their 2-0 shutout, the Lightning accomplished that goal, according to Chris Dennis. The Lightning allowed 26 shots on goal and blocked 24 shots.

"You could tell they really committed defensively [Sunday] night," Dennis said. "And you could see from the first period the shots were 6-4 [for Tampa Bay] and as the game went on it got a little better for Tampa but they obviously were very committed defensively last night. ... You can look at their blocked shots last night, I think they had double what the Rangers did [24-11]. You can just see that real commitment to team defense. When you commit like that, you've got some game breakers that can score offensively, they don't need a lot of time and space. And you've got your goalie playing well. That's usually a recipe for success."

Stamkos' power-play goal leads Lightning in Game 5

Monday, 05.25.2015 / 10:48 AM / "Obvious Choice" Moments Staff

Steven Stamkos is rolling, which is a big reason why the Tampa Bay Lightning are a win away from advancing to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since 2004.

In Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Final against the New York Rangers on Sunday, Stamkos' power-play goal provided the final margin of victory in a 2-0 Lightning win that gave Tampa Bay a 3-2 lead in the best-of-7 series. He finished a tic-tac-toe passing sequence with Ondrej Palat and Nikita Kucherov when he redirected Palat's pass to beat Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist at 18:22 of the second period.

Stamkos, who scored 43 goals in the regular season, had a goal and an assist on Sunday, and is tied for second on the Lightning with 17 playoff points. After going the first eight games of the Stanley Cup Playoffs without a goal, the Lightning captain has scored in four straight games, and has seven goals and 14 points in his past 10. The four-game goal streak is tied for the Lightning playoff record set by Martin St. Louis in 2003 and Vincent Lecavalier in 2007.

Analysis: Ducks can counter Blackhawks' pedigree

Corey Masisak - Staff Writer

ANAHEIM -- If recent history is any indication, the 2015 Western Conference Final, though tied 2-2, is over.

The Chicago Blackhawks have been even after four games in a best-of-7 Stanley Cup Playoff series seven times since Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Duncan Keith starting enjoying postseason success, and seven times they have won the series, never needing a Game 7.

Yes, the core group of Blackhawks is 14-0 after a series gets to 2-2, winning Game 5 and Game 6 each time.

The Anaheim Ducks have spent the 2015 playoffs trying to prove their recent history does not define them, and they have plenty of reasons to believe the Blackhawks will not be able to win the next two games, let alone two of the next three to advance the Stanley Cup Final.

For starters, this Ducks team is really good and has two of the last three games at home, starting with Game 5 on Monday (9 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports).

Lightning win Game 5 playing like Rangers

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

NEW YORK -- The Tampa Bay Lightning took a page out of the New York Rangers' playbook Sunday night and beat them at their own game, looking every bit as comfortable and confident as they are when they wind up their speed and skill to turn a game into a track meet.

This was yet another sign of growth in the Lightning, a team that started the Stanley Cup Playoffs green but is now looking like a grizzled, seasoned group that's ready to win in any way against any team on the biggest stage in hockey.

They're one win away from getting there.

Tampa Bay won 2-0 in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Final at Madison Square Garden with great patience, momentum-swinging penalty-killing, a goal off of a quick transition, a tic-tac-toe goal on the power play, and a suffocating performance in the third period.

"If we're going to have any chance of winning, that's how we have to do it," Lightning coach Jon Cooper said.

Tampa Bay captain Steven Stamkos said after Game 1 in this series that the Lightning needed to play more like the Rangers to reach the Stanley Cup Final.

Surging Stamkos lifts Lightning one win from Final

David Satriano - Staff Writer

NEW YORK -- Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos finished second in the NHL regular season with 43 goals, then had none in the first eight games of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Despite that, the Lightning advanced to the Eastern Conference Final against the New York Rangers, and Stamkos has been unstoppable since, scoring a goal in six of his past seven games, including one with an assist in a 2-0 win in Game 5 at Madison Square Garden on Sunday to give the Lightning a 3-2 lead in the best-of-7-series.

Stamkos has four goals and three assists in the series, and seven goals and 14 points in his past 10 games.

"I am definitely more confident now than I was the first eight games, no question, but I think for me, it was a great adversity test," said Stamkos, who scored a power-play goal at 18:22 of the second period to give Tampa Bay a 2-0 lead. "Our team was winning, which was great. … But I knew I was playing the right way, and when you play the right way, things are going to start going your way."

Rangers couldn't find way through Lightning defense

Evan Sporer - Staff Writer

NEW YORK -- The New York Rangers scored 10 goals in their prior two games against the Tampa Bay Lightning, four on the power play. The Rangers created quality scoring chances and had the Lightning and goalie Ben Bishop on their heels.

But Sunday, in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Final, Tampa Bay took away the chances and the shots, and defeated the Rangers 2-0 to take a 3-2 lead in the best-of-7 series.

Tampa Bay eliminated time and space, collapsed in the shooting lanes, and kept New York and the puck to the outside.

"They had a lot of layers," Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi said. "They had the first guy come at you and get right in the lane, and you get it by that guy, and there's another guy in front of the net that's trying to block it. They did a really good job of that tonight. We just have to find a way to get it past that first guy and hopefully get that puck into the net."

Given chance to respond, Bishop boosts Lightning

David Satriano - Staff Writer

NEW YORK -- After Ben Bishop allowed five goals in two straight games of the Eastern Conference Final, Tampa Bay Lightning coach Jon Cooper was asked if he would change his goalie.

Cooper said it was asinine and preposterous to consider benching the starter who led the Lightning all season and into the third round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Cooper was right.

Bishop made 26 saves in a 2-0, Game 5 win against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on Sunday that moved the Lightning within one win of the Stanley Cup Final.

Tampa Bay leads the best-of-7 series 3-2 and can win the conference in Game 6 at Amalie Arena on Tuesday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports).

"Even though what happened the last few games, I wasn't discouraged," Bishop said. "There was nothing drastically wrong. Just wanted to come out and play the same way."

Stanley Cup Playoffs notebook: Sunday, May 24

Monday, 05.25.2015 / 12:14 AM / 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs

NHL Public Relations


Ben Bishop made 26 saves and the Tampa Bay Lightning scored twice in the second period to take a 3-2 series lead against the New York Rangers in the Eastern Conference Final.

* The Lightning are one win away from reaching the Stanley Cup Final for the second time in their history. Tampa Bay’s previous appearance was in 2004, when they defeated the Calgary Flames in seven games to win their first Stanley Cup.

* It was Bishop’s second shutout of the postseason. Overall, Bishop improved to 11-7 in the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs with a 2.08 goals-against average and a .922 save percentage.

* According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Bishop was the first goaltender to shut out NYR in the conference final or Stanley Cup Final at Madison Square Garden since the Los Angeles KingsJonathan Quick made 32 saves June 9, 2014, in a 3-0 win in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final at NYR. Elias adds that prior to Quick, the last goaltender to do so was the Boston BruinsGerry Cheevers, who made 33 saves May 11, 1972, in a 3-0 win in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final at NYR.

Ducks upbeat after another multi-overtime loss

Curtis Zupke - Correspondent

ANAHEIM -- Ryan Kesler walked out of Honda Center in a suit with no socks shortly after his media obligation Sunday.

The Anaheim Ducks had just arrived from Chicago, and coach Bruce Boudreau ordered them to decompress. There was no practice, and Kesler intended to take his coach's advice.

"I go sit on the beach and relax," the Ducks center said. "Try not to think about hockey. Spend time with my kids. When it's game time, I'll re-energize there and get ready for the game."

Boudreau briefly met with his players, but he otherwise wanted them to step away after a grueling 5-4 double-overtime loss to the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 4 of the Western Conference Final. The best-of-7-series is tied 2-2. Game 5 is Monday at Honda Center (9 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports).

"I said, 'Go home,'" Boudreau said. "Don't sit on the couch or anything. Get some movement and exercise in. But have a good day with your families, not think about the game, then come back [Monday] refreshed, all excited to play Game 5 in front of our home fans."

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Quote of the Day

That's today's game. That's one of the things you have to deal with when you're a championship team. Guys are going to earn more money based on their performance and what they've achieved, [and] deservedly so. [Saad] falls into that category.

— Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville on Brandon Saad, who was traded by Chicago to the Columbus Blue Jackets this offseason