CHICAGO (AP) — The latest from Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final between Tampa Bay and Chicago:
Brandon Saad scored at 6:22 of the third period to give the Chicago Blackhawks a 2-1 lead in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup finals.
Saad came in from the left side. He got stopped by Andrei Vasilevskiy’s stick, then corralled the skittering puck and knocked it between the goalie’s legs to put Chicago on top.
Tampa Bay’s Alex Killorn scored on a slick feed from Valtteri Filppula behind the net, and the Lightning were tied 1-1 with the Chicago Blackhawks through two periods in Game 4.
Filppula faked as if he was going to take the puck out from behind the net. He was moving to his left, pulling three Blackhawks with him. He threw the puck back to his right and fed Killorn all alone on the edge of the left crease at 11:47. Chicago goalie Corey Crawford had no chance.
That came just 5:07 after Chicago’s Jonathan Toews scored his first goal of the series.
The Blackhawks again were unable to sustain a lead. It’s been an issue for them in the postseason, particularly in Game 3. They were leading 2-1 in that one after Brandon Saad scored early in the third, only to have Tampa Bay’s Ondrej Palat tie it just 13 seconds later. The Lightning went on to win 3-2 on a late goal by Cedric Paquette.
Chicago scores first in a tense, rugged Game 4.
Jonathan Toews broke through at 6:40 of the second period with his first goal of the series to give the Blackhawks a 1-0 lead.
After Patrick Sharp batted the puck in the air, Toews scooted in on the left side and knocked it off Andrei Vasilevskiy’s pad and into the net.
The Blackhawks’ captain was long overdue after being held to just one assist in the series.
The goal capped easily the best pressure by Chicago in a game Tampa had largely dominated.
Seconds earlier, Johnny Oduya unleashed a shot from the point that Marcus Kruger redirected off the left post with 14:33 remaining in the period. And right after that, Sharp had a breakaway but was denied by Vasilevskiy.
On the South Side of Chicago, where the White Sox are taking on the Houston Astros, a horn alerted the crowd to the Blackhawks’ goal, prompting a loud round of cheers at U.S. Cellular Field.
Andrei Vasilevskiy made a surprise start in goal for Tampa Bay, and the Lightning were locked in a scoreless tie with the Chicago Blackhawks after the first period in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup finals.
The Blackhawks, trying to tie the series, managed just two shots in against Vasilevskiy and neither came from stars Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews. It was a big change from Game 3, when Chicago outshot Tampa Bay 19-7 in the first period but had to settle for a 1-1 tie because they missed some open nets.
Chicago’s Corey Crawford made nine saves, including a point-blank stop against Tyler Johnson with 2:35 remaining. Crawford slid to his right to make the save, keeping it scoreless. Vasilevskiy had an easier time as his defenders formed a virtual wall when Chicago had the puck.
The Blackhawks were just 2 of 8 on power plays in the series coming into the series and they could not take advantage after Jason Garrison got called for interference at 11:41.
Instead, Jonathan Toews got called for a high stick against Victor Hedman near the board a minute later, making it four on four.
Neither team mounted a major scoring threat.
The Lightning are doing a good job protecting goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy so far after his surprise start in goal for Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final. The Blackhawks did not have a shot on goal through the first eight minutes and Tampa Bay had three blocked shots early.
In fact, there were just 2 combined shots in the first 7:16 — both by Tampa Bay — as the two teams played somewhat cautiously. Chicago didn’t get its first shot until 8:17 from Patrick Sharp, and shots on goal were 6-1 Tampa Bay with 8:19 left in a scoreless game.
The Lightning lead the series 2-1.
Something to look out for tonight — slow pucks and tricky bounces.
That could be an issue on a humid day when temperatures hit the 90s. They had dropped to the mid-70s by game time.
Injured Blackhawks defenseman Michal Rozsival just pulled up at the United Center in a nice set of wheels — a brand new yellow Bentley. He had a walking cast on his left leg and walked up the stairs from the loading dock on crutches.
Rozsival broke his ankle in Game 4 of the second-round series against Minnesota.
Andrei Vasilevskiy is the surprise starter in goal for the Tampa Bay Lightning for Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final against the Chicago Blackhawks.
The 20-year-old Vasilevskiy is making his first career playoff start. He had made just 19 appearances this season, counting the postseason.
Ben Bishop appeared to dealing with some sort of groin or leg injury while making 36 saves in a gutsy performance in Tampa Bay’s 3-2 victory on Monday night. He participated in the morning skate on Wednesday, but coach Jon Cooper said they were in a “holding pattern” in terms of if he could play.
Vasilevskiy then led the team out of the tunnel for warmups before the game, signaling he was the starter.
The Lightning have been playing well on the road, and the Blackhawks have a history of playing better as series progress.
For Tampa Bay, it’s been a remarkable turnaround after a subpar regular season in that area. The Lightning came into Wednesday’s game with an 8-3 road record in the playoffs after going 18-16-7. They had won four straight away from home, beating the Blackhawks 3-2 in Game 3 on a late goal by Cedric Paquette to go up 2-1 in the series.
The Lightning are two wins shy of the Los Angeles Kings’ NHL-record 10 road victories during their 2012 Stanley Cup run
But the Blackhawks also have an impressive trend going.
Since coach Joel Quenneville took over in October 2008, the Blackhawks are 30-30 in Games 1-3 of playoff series. But they have a 40-14 record in Games 4-7, according to STATS.
Star watch: Actor Vince Vaughn and rock guitarist Tom Morello joined the NBCSN set outside the United Center before Game 4 to talk a little Blackhawks with former Chicago star Jeremy Roenick.
Vaughn was raised in Libertyville and Morello in Buffalo Grove — a pair of suburbs north of Chicago that are less than 10 miles apart.
Morello certainly got his due during the first two periods of the game: Excerpts from several Rage Against the Machine songs were played during stoppages in play. Vaughn was cheered when he was shown on the video screens hanging over the ice.
On Monday night, NASCAR driver Danica Patrick and Smashing Pumpkins frontman Billy Corgan were on hand for Game 3. Both are also from Illinois.
With his career winding down, Blackhawks defenseman Kimmo Timonen is getting another chance to play in a Stanley Cup Final.
The 16-year veteran was in the lineup for Wednesday night’s Game 4 between Chicago and Tampa Bay for the first time since Game 5 of the Western Conference finals against Anaheim.
“Once you miss the last seven games and two weeks of hockey, it is not the perfect situation to jump in there,” Timonen said. “But I’ve been around a long time and I know what to expect. I’m going to enjoy the moment. It is the best thing you can take. Keep it simple, but I want to be aggressive in my play and maybe I can help the team with making plays and play my own game.”
Chicago acquired the 40-year-old Timonen in a trade with Philadelphia in February. But he missed much of the season while recovering from blood clots discovered in his leg and lungs last summer. He plans to retire after the postseason.
Timonen has played in five Olympics for Finland and will be appearing in his 103rd playoff game. One thing he has not done: Win the Stanley Cup.
He made it to the final in 2010 with Philadelphia and was on the ice when Chicago’s Patrick Kane scored in overtime in Game 6, clinching the championship for Chicago.
Tampa Bay leads the best-of-seven series 2-1.
Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper has apparently been eating well in Chicago — and on the cheap, too.
NBA Hall of Famer Charles Barkley picked up the tab for Cooper, his assistants and front office staff at Chicago Cut Steakhouse on Sunday, according to the Chicago Tribune. And actor Vince Vaughn did the same on Tuesday.
“They’re all just random,” Cooper said. “We’ve added a little tradition. We’ve gone out as a staff. Other people in the restaurant that we see, those are just random meetings. But we’ve gone out as a staff together in every single series. Maybe there’s a little more notoriety because we’re in the finals. Those are all just staff dinners.”
The Tribune reported Barkley recommended the restaurant to Cooper and called to make the reservation. He had them bill the meal to his credit card. Vaughn, a Blackhawks fan, is apparently friends with Cooper and picked up the tab after spotting him at the restaurant.
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