When Brandon Saad put the Chicago Blackhawks up 2-1 against the Tampa Bay Lightning with 13:38 remaining in the third period of Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Finals on Wednesday, Scott Ferrall didn’t think the lead would hold up.
Neither did Mike Morreale.
“No, I didn’t,” the NHL.com writer admitted on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “I got to be honest with you. This series has been just awesome. These games have been absolutely a treat for any hockey fan that’s diehard or any average fan that you watch in these games. It’s been absolutely great, and both teams are here because of the way they handle adversity, the things that they’ve ben through. It seems like every time a team makes a push, the other team responds – and that’s why after Saad scored that goal, you had that feeling that Tampa’s going to come back and tie this thing up (and) we might be going to triple overtime.”
We didn’t. The Blackhawks held on for a 2-1 win, thanks in large part to Corey Crawford, who saved 24 of 25 shots.
“Let’s face it: Corey Crawford (was the difference),” Morreale said. “He really pulled the rabbit out of the hat with a bunch of tricks back there making those saves. It was amazing to watch him play. It was probably, to me, one of his defining moments in this cup. If Chicago goes on to win this cup, that third period – the ending of that third period where Crawford was making save after save – it was just amazing to watch. Obviously he was getting some help from his defenders back there. (Brent) Seabrook (had) a nice block on a (Steven) Stamkos shot. But overall, it was just outstanding. That third period, Tampa really pushed the pace, and Chicago held them off.”
Ferrall has been extremely impressed with Crawford in the Stanley Cup. The way he performed in the final minute of Game 4 was, according to Ferrall, “insanity.”
“It really was,” Morreale said. “Your goalie can make 55 saves in the game, but if they’re all from the point and easy saves, what’s the big deal? It’s in spots like that when you want the money goalie. And you’re right: Crawford is doing it in this series. I mean, you can see it. Early in the playoffs, he struggled. That’s why he was pulled. Scotty Darling came in, filled in admirably for a couple of games. That was that, Crawford’s back. In this series, he’s showing why he’s earning his paycheck. Just extraordinary what he’s been able to do.”
The series now shifts to Tampa Bay for Game 5 on Saturday. If the Blackhawks win, they’ll have a chance to clinch the Stanley Cup on their home ice – something they haven’t done since 1938.
“If they’re able to do that, it’s going to be really interesting because Crawford has done so much in this series,” Morreale said. “Crawford has done everything possible – in particular in that last game – to salvage these wins here for the Hawks, but Duncan Keith has just been out of his mind in these playoffs. And you look at what Victor Hedman’s been doing for Tampa Bay. It’s been the same way. That’s what’s made for me personally this Stanley Cup such a treat to watch. Whoever wins this series, whether it’s Tampa Bay or Chicago, you could legitimately be saying that one of the defenseman on either team could be winning the Conn Smythe Trophy because they’ve been that good.”