Ben Bishop holds off Blackhawks as Lightning take a 2-1 series lead


Ben Bishop holds off Blackhawks as Lightning take a 2-1 series lead

Something was bothering Ben Bishop. The Blackhawks could see it. The media could see it. Everyone watching from the United Center, from home or from a local establishment could see it.

For the first 20 minutes, the Blackhawks tried to exploit Bishop’s issue, the one that had him getting up slowly and moving gingerly. They got one. They missed on others. And by game’s end Bishop, injury be damned, was celebrating another road victory.

Brandon Saad scored his seventh goal of the postseason but the Lightning came with two in the third as they beat the Blackhawks 3-2 in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final on Monday night. The Blackhawks, who lost just their second game at home this postseason, trail 2-1 in the best-of-seven series heading into Game 4 on Wednesday night.

Johnny Oduya missed part of the second period and some of the third. Coach Joel Quenneville said he’ll see how the defenseman is doing on Tuesday. Trevor van Riemsdyk played in his first NHL game since Nov. 16, logging nine minutes.

[MORE: Five Things to take away from Blackhawks' Game 3 loss]

The Lightning are now 8-3 on the road; their last loss away from home was Game 1 against the New York Rangers in the Eastern Conference Final.

For the Blackhawks, it was missed opportunities coupled with defensive lapses at awful times. Saad’s goal gave them a 2-1 lead early, prompting a boisterous celebration from the crowd. But it was short-lived, as the Blackhawks’ propensity to give up goals too quickly after they’ve scored struck again. Ondrej Palat scored just 13 seconds after Saad, eliminating the Blackhawks’ lead and taking the life out of the United Center.

“Just a couple of bad habits that ended up hurting us. We’re all responsible for that,” Jonathan Toews said. “This game could’ve been similar to the way we stole Game 1 from them. We feel like we had a lot of chances, especially early in the game. Late in the game we gave up those odd-man rushes we’ve been talking about that end up in the back of our net.”

At the start, however, it was what the Blackhawks couldn’t put in the back of Bishop’s net. Bishop’s status was up in the air entering Game 3, given he left Game 2 with a mysterious injury. His pain was evident early; Bishop was favoring his left leg, stretching it out whenever he got the chance and getting up slowly after several plays. The Blackhawks fired 19 shots at him and Bishop gave up plenty of rebounds off them. There were the missed shots, too: Marian Hossa, on a play he was tripped, missed a wide-open net from the slot.

“The rebound came up to me and I tried to fake to the shot right away and cut in the middle,” Hossa said. “And as soon as I tried to finish it, I felt like I was tripped and I lost the balance a little bit and I didn’t shoot the puck the way I wanted to.”

[NBC SPORTS SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans]

Brad Richards broke through, his power-play shot glancing off Bishop’s glove and in to tie it 1-1 at the time. But whatever momentum the Blackhawks built up didn’t transition over to the second period.

“The second period we took a dip, got into some penalty trouble, gave them some momentum,” Richards said. “Play that first period over again and we might have a few more; couple open nets we missed. We played the game wewanted to in the first and then overall, a pretty good game, but they capitalized on a couple mistakes.”

Indeed, the Palat goal was deflating – “two games in a row we had the lead, short-lived two times, two tough losses in a row,” Quenneville said. The Blackhawks had better chances in the third but Bishop got everything before Paquette scored the game-winner.

Bishop was struggling early. The Blackhawks didn’t get to him as much as they could have. In a close series, a team has to take advantage of every opportunity, or every ailing goalie. The Blackhawks just didn’t do enough of that on Monday.

“This one hurts a little bit tonight,” Richards said. “But we’ll just focus on winning a game and making it a best-of-3. That’s all you can ever ask for.”

Blackhawks edge out Senators in shootout: 'It was really nice to get a win'

Blackhawks edge out Senators in shootout: 'It was really nice to get a win'

It was a rare sight to see the Blackhawks in a shootout on Wednesday night.

It was just the second time this season — and first time at the United Center — that the Blackhawks made it past 3-on-3 overtime. 

The last came on Dec. 2, 2017, a 3-2 shootout loss to the Stars in Dallas. On Wednesday night, the Blackhawks were on the other end, beating the Ottawa Senators 3-2 in a seven-round shootout. Nick Schmaltz netted the game-winner.

"We'll take it," coach Joel Quenneville said. "I thought we had a decent game tonight. Overtime not so good, I liked the shootout victory, Fors made some big saves for us particularly as the game got deeper. Our third was OK, I thought our first two were way better, and overtime we gave up some high quality, some bells were rings for a bit there. But it was nice to see the shootout win."

Patrick Kane had a goal and an assist, recording another multi-point game, his 16th of the season.

"I mean we need every point we can get at this point," Kane said. "There's still belief in this locker room. Obviously we need to go on quite a run and have a big record here down the stretch. But take it a game at a time and nice to get two points."

Anton Forsberg was a big reason the Blackhawks even recorded those two points. The 25-year-old netminder stopped 34 of 36 shots and made a handful of big saves down the stretch.

"It was really nice to get a win for sure," Forsberg said. "I would love to have a lot more wins, but right now just gotta look forward and get as many wins as possible."

Added Quenneville: "I think it was good for him to win a game the way he did. Lot of shots were on the line, as we progressed, got deeper, hitting the point first was big for him and for us and then finding a way to get the extra one was a good win."

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks collide with Senators

NBC Sports Chicago

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks collide with Senators

Here are Three Things to Watch when the Blackhawks take on the Ottawa Senators tonight on NBC Sports Chicago and streaming live on the NBC Sports app. Coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live.

1. Trade chips.

The Blackhawks have reached the point in their season where they have no choice but to become sellers before the Feb. 26 deadline, and we saw that when they traded Michal Kempny to the Washington Capitals on Monday for a conditional third-round pick in 2018. Tommy Wingels could also be an attractive piece for a team looking to fill out their depth.

The Senators will definitely be sellers, and wow do they have some names potentially on the market that can fetch large returns: Derrick Brassard and Mike Hoffman are two players who log top-six minutes on a nightly basis and also have term left on their contract, which is great for teams looking to load up for this year and beyond.

The biggest name to watch, probably in the league altogether, is Erik Karlsson, who could be on the move if a team offers a big enough package for the Senators to pull the trigger now as opposed to in the offseason if they feel him re-signing is a long shot. He was the best defenseman last season, and if a team steps up to get him, they're getting two possible postseason runs out of him.

2. Artem Anisimov's experiment at left wing not working.

Joel Quenneville has tried rekindling the magic between Anisimov, Nick Schmaltz and Patrick Kane as of late, only this time Anisimov is playing the wing and it just hasn't been very effective. The trio was on the ice for each of the two 5-on-5 goals the Kings scored on Monday, and Anisimov completely lost his man on the first one.

It's important to establish a consistent left winger for Schmaltz and Kane, and maybe putting Alex DeBrincat up there is something you consider going forward as part of a long-term solution. Move Anisimov back down as the third-line center to play in more of a defensive role and continue using his big body on power plays for his offensive abilities might be the best bet.

3. Win the special teams battle.

In their last meeting against Ottawa on Jan. 9, the Blackhawks went 4-for-6 on the power play and 4-on-4 on the penalty kill in an 8-2 win. And those are two areas to look out for again.

The Senators own the 28th-ranked power play with a 16.1 percent success rate and 29th-ranked penalty kill with a 74.5 percent success rate. Get ready for another offensive outburst?