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Lightning take control of Stanley Cup Final with Game 3 road victory

The Tampa Bay Lightning looked to be in trouble when they squandered a late lead at home in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final against the Chicago Blackhawks. Two games later, and the Lightning are sitting pretty up 2-1 in the series thanks to two consecutive victories.

David Banks/USA TODAY Sports

David Banks/USA TODAY Sports

Tampa Bay won Game 2 on its home ice and then went to Chicago and stole Game 3 at the United Center, where the Blackhawks rarely lose. The Lightning got on the board first early on with a nasty goal by Ryan Callahan that went top shelf on Corey Crawford, but Chicago dominated the rest of the period. The Blackhawks missed several wide open nets before Brad Richards got them on the board on a power play toward the end of the period.

The second period was scoreless, but Chicago took the lead early in the third period on a goal by Brandon Saad. But before the United Center fans could even stop cheering that goal, the Lightning answered right back with a goal by Ondrej Palat. And then later in the period, with just over three minutes to play in the game, Cedric Paquette scored the game-winning goal off a beauty of a feed from Victor Hedman, who has been a monster thus far in this series.

Ben Bishop made 36 saves despite clearly laboring with some sort of injury, and that’s how Tampa Bay is up 2-1.

Of course, there’s a long way to go. The Blackhawks are no strangers to losing Game 3’s in the Stanley Cup Final, as they lost Game 3 when they beat the Philadelphia Flyers in 2010 and when they beat the Boston Bruins in 2013. That loss to the Bruins also put Chicago down 2-1 in the series, and the Blackhawks went on to win the next three games to take home the Stanley Cup, with two of those three wins coming on the road.

If Chicago is going to get back in this series, the stars will have to show up. Patrick Kane doesn’t have a single point in the series and Jonathan Toews only has one assist. Patrick Sharp only has one assist. Marian Hossa has three assists but no goals and missed a WIDE open net in Game 3, although to be fair, he was tripped before he got his shot away.

Heading into Game 4, the Blackhawks are a 1½-goal favorite, and we should probably expect a big performance from them. Will the Lightning be up for the challenge? We’ll see.

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