Lightning remain mum on Ben Bishop's mysterious injury


Lightning remain mum on Ben Bishop's mysterious injury

To the 22,336 fans at the United Center, Ben Bishop looked uncomfortable. At times, he looked to be more of a liability rather than an asset.

But his performance said otherwise, and you won't hear a peep from the Tampa Bay Lightning on what exactly appears to be bothering Bishop.

"It's gonna take a lot not to play in a Stanley Cup Final game, personally," Bishop said following a 36-save win over the Blackhawks in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final on Monday night.

Bishop, who was removed from Game 2 twice in the third period, participated in Monday morning's skate, but his status for Game 3 remained uncertain. Until Lightning coach Jon Cooper had a long conversation with his starting goaltender when the team arrived at the rink hours later.

"There wasn't any doubt in his eyes," Cooper said of Bishop. "You can read when guys are sitting there saying, 'Coach, I'll go for you.' Or you can say, 'Give me the net.' That kid said, 'Give me the net.'"

So he did. But it was evident Bishop wasn't 100 percent.

After making an initial save early in the first period, Bishop, who veered to the left of his crease, attempted to regain his net by quickly sliding from left to right. But it seemed to aggravate — or re-aggravate — his mysterious injury the Lightning are mum on discussing.

[MORE: 'Bad habit' of coughing up lead dooms Blackhawks in Game 3]

And it didn't get any better.

When pucks cleared the defensive zone, Bishop used that as an opportunity to hunch over and regather himself. He took as much time as he could after making saves from the butterfly position, but Cooper told NBC Sports Network's Pierre McGuire during an in-game interview that "it takes him a little bit longer to get up than most guys" because of Bishop's size.

Cooper admitted after the game that at no point did he ever think about yanking Bishop, who improved to 8-3 on the road this postseason.

"If he was going to be in harm's way, we would have pulled him out," Cooper assured.

"I felt the same pretty much the whole game," Bishop insisted.

Lightning captain Steven Stamkos knows the speculation will circulate throughout the Stanley Cup Final, but said Bishop "didn't look hurt out there to me."

[NBC SPORTS SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans]

One thing's for sure, though: Injured or not, Bishop has played just as big as his 6-foot-7 frame and it's one of the main reasons the Lightning have taken a 2-1 series lead, recapturing home-ice advantage.

“That’s what great goalies do,” Stamkos said. "That’s what great players do. They rise to the occasion. He did that. We didn’t have our best. We needed him. And obviously guys are very happy for him the way he performed tonight. 

“He gave us a chance to respond after the first. That’s all you can ask of a goaltender at this time of year.”

Blackhawks release statement following incident that happened during game vs. Capitals


Blackhawks release statement following incident that happened during game vs. Capitals

Four fans at the United Center were thrown out of Saturday's Blackhawks game for taunting Washington Capitals forward Devante Smith-Pelly with racist remarks.

Midway through the third period, Smith-Pelly, who is black, was in the penalty box when fans shouted "basketball, basketball, basketball" at him, the Washington Post reported.

Here is a GIF of Smith-Pelly's interaction with the fans:

After the game, the Blackhawks released this statement:

Capitals head coach Barry Trotz also had this to say about the incident:

Cue Chelsea Dagger: Blackhawks blow out Capitals to snap eight-game losing streak


Cue Chelsea Dagger: Blackhawks blow out Capitals to snap eight-game losing streak

Win one game.

That was Joel Quenneville’s message during the Blackhawks’ eight-game losing streak, which finally came to an end on Saturday night.

How about a 7-1 victory over the Washington Capitals on home ice for a streak-breaker? Now that’s more like it.

Prior to Saturday, the Blackhawks hadn’t recorded a win in February — or a win at the United Center since Jan. 12. 

Though the Blackhawks will likely miss the playoffs for the first time since Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane were rookies, a blowout win over the leaders of the Metropolitan Division Capitals had to have felt great.

"It’s a nice way to get over the hump," Toews said. "Sometimes you might just win a 2-1 game or just kind of grind it out, but it was nice for us to fill the net the way we did tonight."

Added Joel Quenneville, "Certainly feels 100 times better than coming in and trying to explain how we had a lead and were unable to sustain it. The complete 60 minutes, three periods the right way, more consistency in our game, way more pace than we’ve seen recently, composure with the puck, shooting around the net. It was fun but that’s one. Let’s see how we respond to this because there’s a lot of hockey left."

The Blackhawks are 25-26-8 with 58 points, and are 11 points out the final wild card spot, currently held by the Minnesota Wild.

Among the highlights:

— Seven different Blackhawks scored: Toews, Kane, Alex DeBrincat, Brandon Saad, Artem Anisimov, Nick Schmaltz, Ryan Hartman

— The Blackhawks are 74-6-4 in the regular season in which Kane and Toews both record a goal — and 41-0-0 in their last 41 games, according to NBC Sports Chicago stats guru Chris Kamka.

— Kane registered career assist No. 500, becoming the sixth Blackhawk with 500 or more. Kane is also the seventh U.S.-born player with 300-plus goals and 500-plus assists, joining Mike Modano, Keith Tkachuk, Jeremy Roenick, Pat LaFontaine, Joe Mullen and Phil Housley, according to Kamka.

"You think about the amount of great Americans that have played the game, how many players actually play hockey in the United States... Growing up all I wanted to do was play hockey," Kane said. "That means a lot, especially when you talk about American-born players."

— DeBrincat's 22nd goal of the season has him tied for the rookie-lead with Tampa Bay Lightning's Yanni Gourde. DeBrincat and Kane also lead the Blackhawks with 22 goals.