CHICAGO (AP) — At the end of a 16-year NHL career, Kimmo Timonen is going to play in another Stanley Cup Final.
The respected veteran is in the lineup for the Chicago Blackhawks for Game 4 on Wednesday night against the Tampa Bay Lightning. The 40-year-old Timonen, who was acquired in a February trade with Philadelphia, missed most of the season while recovering from blood clots in his leg and lungs. He plans to retire after the playoffs.
“I’m really excited,” he said after Chicago’s morning skate. “It’s been a long couple weeks here and you know, I’ve been working out hard just to hope I get this chance to play one more, or more games, and looks like that moment came today.”
There was no word from the Lightning about goaltender Ben Bishop, who appeared to dealing with some sort of groin or leg injury while making 36 saves in a gutsy performance in Monday night’s 3-2 victory. Bishop left twice during the third period of Game 2 on Saturday night, but the team has not provided a reason for his twin departures.
Bishop participated in the morning skate ahead of Wednesday night’s game.
“I think we’re in the same holding pattern as we were 48 hours ago,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said.
Timonen has four goals and 31 assists in 102 postseason games. He hasn’t played since Game 5 of the Western Conference finals against Anaheim.
The one missing piece from Timonen’s career is a Stanley Cup title. He made it to the 2010 final with Philadelphia and was on the ice when Patrick Kane scored in overtime in Game 6 to clinch the series for Chicago.
The appearance in Game 4 means Timonen’s name would go on the Cup if the Blackhawks win the title. They trail the Lightning 2-1 in the series.
“He’s smart, experienced,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “I think he did a good job for us throughout the playoffs. Gives him a chance to get in here in a good moment, a big moment. His reads and his position awareness and coverage in his own end will help him.”
Quenneville also said defenseman Johnny Oduya “likely” will play Wednesday night. Oduya was hampered by an upper-body injury in the last part of Game 3.
Timonen is expected to replace Kyle Cumiskey, and Kris Versteeg is coming in for Bryan Bickell on Chicago’s second line. Versteeg played in each of the first two games against the Lightning, but he was scratched for Monday night’s 3-2 loss.
The mindset is “just to go out there and play my game,” Versteeg said. “I thought the first two games there was glimpses of it, but I really look forward to trying to get my entire game back to where it should be.”
The final has been a busy time for Versteeg, who has 16 goals and 25 assists in 81 career playoff appearances. Versteeg and his wife, Brittany, welcomed their first child, son Jaxson James Versteeg, before the start of the series.
“That’s the most difficult part, is not seeing him,” Versteeg said. “I think FaceTime’s really helped out with that.”
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