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Top Playoff Moments: No. 4 - Ben Bishop's Willis Reed moment

by Bryan Burns / Tampa Bay Lightning

The Tampa Bay Lightning capped an incredible run through the postseason with the franchise’s second-ever trip to the Stanley Cup Final.

Although the Lightning were defeated by the Chicago Blackhawks in six tight Cup Final games, the playoff ride will be remembered by Tampa Bay fans for its resilience and exhilaration.

In one final salute to the 2014-15 Eastern Conference champion Tampa Bay Lightning, we’ve ranked the top 11 Bolts’ moments from the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Why 11?

Because there were too many candidates to squeeze into just 10 spots.

Relive the Bolts’ journey to the Stanley Cup Final and enjoy the experience for a second time.

11. STAMKOS HEADLOCKS QUINCEY, RED WINGS INTO SUBMISSION
10. KUCH COMES TO THE RESCUE (PART I)
9. STAMKOS ENDS GOAL DROUGHT
8. KUCH COMES TO THE RESCUE (PART II)
7. TYLER JOHNSON HATTY IN NEW YORK
6. BRAYDON COBURN SEALS GAME 7 VICTORY AGAINST DETROIT
5. LIGHTNING FANS PACK WATCH PARTIES
4. BEN BISHOP'S WILLIS REED MOMENT

In the days leading up to Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final, the primary questions on everyone’s mind were: What happened to Lightning goaltender Ben Bishop in Game 2 and would he play Game 3?

Bishop left his goal midway through the third period of Game 2 and went back to the locker room while the Bolts scored the go-ahead goal. Bishop returned and played a couple more minutes, only to exit for good, backup goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy taking over.

Bishop was questionable to play Game 3 as the Stanley Cup Final moved to Chicago’s United Center. But, when both teams came out of the tunnel for pregame warmups, Bishop was the player at the front of the line for the Lightning.

Bishop was hurting during Game 3, the injury from Game 2, later revealed to be a damaged groin, causing him obvious discomfort on the ice. He fought through the pain, though, and stopped 36 of Chicago’s 38 shots in a gutty performance that gave the Bolts a two-games-to-one lead in the series following their 3-2 win.

The Blackhawks, perhaps sensing a wounded duck in front of the Lightning net, sent 19 shots Bishop’s way in the first period and had a number of high-quality chances. The Lightning probably should have been down 3-1, 4-1, maybe even 5-1 the way the Hawks were humming in the opening period.

But Bishop was there to meet nearly every one of Chicago’s shots. His play in the first kept the Lightning from getting blown out, and his 36 total saves were the second-most of the postseason for Bishop, who rose to the occasion during the most crucial playoff games.

Bishop’s heroic Game 3 effort solidified his status as Big Game Ben and gave Tampa Bay a temporary lead in the best-of-seven series.

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