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Blackhawks' new lines hoping to build on success

by Corey Masisak / NHL.com

TAMPA — Chicago Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said he does not expect to make any lineup changes for Game 5 of the 2015 Stanley Cup Final on Saturday against the Tampa Bay Lightning (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, TVA Sports).

Quenneville shuffled his lines for Game 4 and inserted defenseman Kimmo Timonen for Kyle Cumiskey. The Blackhawks won 2-1 to even the best-of-7 series at 2-2.

Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper has been coy about his goaltender since Ben Bishop left Game 2 with an undisclosed injury, and Quenneville went with his own subterfuge at the start of Game 4.

The Blackhawks did not show the lines they ended up using in the game during the pregame warmup, and even during the game Quenneville quickly switched the bottom three lines around before settling on the four lines that are expected to begin Game 5 together.

One of the players who appeared to benefit from the changes was forward Patrick Sharp, who was bumped to the top line with Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa. Sharp had several good scoring chances in the game, and hit the post seconds before directing the puck to Toews for Chicago's first goal.

Sharp hasn't scored since Game 2 of the Western Conference Second Round series against the Minnesota Wild. He has two assists in this series.

"Hopefully we can be better each game," Sharp said of his new line. "That last game we created a few chances, we scored a goal to get the guys going early, but so much gets written about scoring goals and making plays this time of year. I think both teams are in the Finals because of how well they play defensively, how well they check, how well they keep the puck out of their net. We want to be responsible whenever we're on the ice together."

Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane has not scored since Game 6 of the Western Conference Final, a five-game drought after scoring 10 in the first 16 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs after returning from a fractured clavicle in Game 1 of the Western Conference First Round series against the Nashville Predators.

Kane's new line also contributed a goal in Game 4. Brandon Saad joined Kane and Brad Richards, and Saad scored the game-winning goal shortly after a faceoff in the Tampa Bay zone. Kane assisted on that goal, tapping the puck to Saad out of the faceoff scrum.

"I would say yes and no," Kane said when asked if he is frustrated. "As an offensive player, you always want to score goals; that's your job. I don't really think about it, not concerned about it. I want to help out in any way possible. If that's scoring goals, great; if not, doing other stuff, setting up plays, playing good defensively ... that's what it is this time of year. That's what we have to be concerned about, not individual stuff.

"Every game I had some sort of chance to score. Obviously you want to demand the puck. It's a tight-checking series. There probably isn't as much scoring as people thought coming into the series."

The Blackhawks have been tied 2-2 in a series eight times prior to this Cup Final since Quenneville, Kane and Toews arrived in Chicago. They have won each series, going 16-1 after Game 4 in those series. The lone loss came in Game 5 in the previous round against the Anaheim Ducks.

They are also 41-14 in any series after Game 3 during this era.

"I don't have an answer for that," Sharp said. "I just feel our team gets better as the series goes on. I wish I had an answer to [those stats]. I don't think too many of the guys in the room know it. We just know it's a big game and we'll do whatever we can to win it."

Here are the projected lineups:

BLACKHAWKS

Patrick SharpJonathan ToewsMarian Hossa

Brandon SaadBrad RichardsPatrick Kane

Kris VersteegAntoine VermetteTeuvo Teravainen

Andrew DesjardinsMarcus KrugerAndrew Shaw

Duncan KeithNiklas Hjalmarsson

Kimmo TimonenBrent Seabrook

Johnny OduyaTrevor van Riemsdyk

Corey Crawford

Scott Darling

Scratched: Bryan Bickell, Kyle Cumiskey, Joakim Nordstrom, Daniel Carcillo, David Rundblad, Antti Raanta, Phillip Danault, Ville Pokka, Ryan Hartman, Viktor Svedberg

Injured: Michal Rozsival (left ankle fracture)

LIGHTNING

Alex Killorn - Valtteri Filppula - Steven Stamkos

Ondrej Palat - Tyler Johnson - Nikita Kucherov

J.T. Brown - Cedric Paquette - Brenden Morrow

Brian Boyle - Ryan Callahan

Victor Hedman - Anton Stralman

Braydon Coburn - Jason Garrison

Matthew Carle - Andrej Sustr

Nikita Nesterov

Ben Bishop

Andrei Vasilevskiy

Scratched: Kristers Gudlevskis, Jonathan Drouin, Mark Barberio, Jonathan Marchessault, Vladislav Namestnikov

Injured: None

Status report: If the Blackhawks do go with the same lineup they used in Game 4, Bickell will be a scratch for the fourth time this series after playing in each of Chicago's first 17 playoff games in the first three rounds.

Who's hot: Saad has two goals this series. … Hossa has four assists this series.

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