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The Tampa Bay Lightning look to strike the Chicago Blackhawks in game six of the NHL Stanley cup finals, which is a must win for them. It is not certain that Nikita Kucherov will be able to play, however. The Blackhawks now have the edge, and game six is a do or die for the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Kucherov’s collision in the last game made him have to leave the ice, and Chicago would take a 3-2 lead in the series. It will not be clear if he will play or not on Monday, but coach Jon Cooper said he is doing a lot better, and he feels good about his forward returning for game six. The Tampa Bay Lightning will have to wait and see if he is feeling up to playing before making the final call. In game five Kucherov crashed into Chicago’s goalie Corey Crawford, and could not continue. He was thrown into the post with his face smashing into it, brutally. The trainer went to work right away on his upper body injury.
Kucherov was born and raised in Russia, and has joined the Tampa Bay Lightning, and is number two in the playoffs with 10 goals. The captain Steve Stamkos told reporters how important Kucherov was to the team, and how they could not have made it to the finals without him. Stamos said although it would be wonderful for him to be on the ice in game six, but if he cannot, they have the players that can do the job. Tyler Johnson has been thought to have been playing hurt, and is the cause of the Tampa Bay Lightning’s struggles.
Cooper stated that the team’s goalie Ben Bishop had an unnamed injury, but is reported as fit as a fiddle. Cooper also reported that Kucherov has been a key player in this series, mainly because he has averaged at least one point per game for the Tampa Bay Lightning. Bishop was pretty amazing Saturday night on the ice, in addition to stopping just over 26 goals. Unfortunately Chicago’s goalie was also hot on the ice, and his defensive players were on their game in front of him. Together they were able to keep Tampa Bay’s triple threat to only three shots in just under an hour. If the Tampa Bay Lightning can not strike against the Blackhawks in a must win game six, the Stanley cup will then remain a fantasy for them this year. There is very little chance that the Lightning will not triumph Monday night, because they have faced this situation before in Detroit, however Chicago plays very strong at home. Game six looks to be a must see game, no matter which team wins.
Chicago fans are so psyched for Monday night that tickets were sold starting at just over a grand for the big game, and expectations are so high for the Blackhawks who play well under pressure. By Sunday morning the most inexpensive seat had been sold at just under $2,000. These seat prices are similar to the Micheal Jordan era.
With the Tampa Bay Lightning being such a strong team on the road a strike against the Blackhawks is very likely, and a forced game seven is possible. A determined Bishop in the net combined with the triple threat, which is only possible if Kucherov does indeed play, is such an important game for the Lightning, and then there may be a game seven. In order to keep the Stanley cup dream alive Tampa Bay will have to be on their game.
By Katherine Miller-Chichester
ESPN: Nikita Kucherov (upper body) is reportedly doing much better, may play game six
USA Today: Blackhawks edge Lightening, move within one win of Stanley cup
BR: Patrick Sharp scores wide open goal after players collide
Photo Courtesy of Christina McCullough’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License