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CHICAGO – The latest from Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final between Tampa Bay and Chicago:
A tornado warning was issued in the Chicago area less than two hours before Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final between the Blackhawks and the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Heavy rain drenched thousands of fans streaming to the arena along Madison Street as storm sirens blared. The warning expired at 5:15 p.m. and there were no reports of any touchdowns.
It was calm inside: Members of the Blackhawks were kicking around a soccer ball in the bowels of the arena as usual to keep the mood light before they had a chance to clinch the NHL championship at home for the first time since 1938.
Blackhawks defenseman Kimmo Timonen acknowledged it is tempting to let his mind drift, with his 16-year career winding down and his first Stanley Cup in reach.
"It is a mental struggle," he said before Game 6. "You just have to do mental work. ... You go for a walk, you watch a movie, that kind of stuff. You listen to music, whatever makes you get your mind off it. It is a mental struggle. But you still have to, every hour, say to yourself, 'Stop it.' There's a game and it's a big game and we haven't won (anything) tonight."
Chicago acquired Timonen from the Flyers in February. But he missed much of the season recovering from blood clots in his leg and lungs.
Timonen debuted with Nashville in the 1998-99 season and was traded to Philadelphia in 2007. He spent seven years with the Flyers and was on the ice in 2010 when Patrick Kane scored the Stanley Cup-clinching goal in overtime in Game 6.
"I haven't thought about it now, but when I got here three months ago, we would talk about it," Timonen said. "The guys were saying stuff to me about it. But it's over now. It was five years ago. It was a tough memory, but hopefully, it will be different this time."
Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper continues to be treated well in Chicago.
Cooper, friends with Cubs manager Joe Maddon, had sweet seats near Chicago's dugout Sunday night at Wrigley Field.
"All I'm going to say is it's the first pro sporting event that I've been to for a long time that I could just sit there, relax, not have a stake in it," Cooper said. "That was good for my head."
NBA Hall of Famer Charles Barkley picked up the tab for Cooper, his assistants and the front office staff at Chicago Cut Steakhouse last week, and actor Vince Vaughn did the same two days later.
Maddon managed the Tampa Bay Rays the past nine seasons.
Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper shot down the idea that the Lightning were approaching this as just another game — not with the season at stake.
"The Stanley Cup's in the building," Cooper said. "I can't believe they would say, oh, it's just another game. We know it's just not another game. We haven't treated those elimination games like that. This is much different than Game 1. You got to win or you go home. On the other side you know what happens if they win. No. I don't like to sugarcoat anything. This is the reality of the business we're in. We need to rise to the occasion."