Having fallen in their last three games, the Tampa Bay Lightning arrived in Chicago desperately seeking to rekindle their winning ways. Having lost two key players in Victor Hedman and Ondrej Palat, the Bolts applied pressure early on, but soon found themselves on their heels.
The first period was a bit of a tug of war between the Lightning and Blackhawks, but the second was a display of relentless pressure by Chicago. They gained momentum but couldn’t converted on their power plays despite peppering the Lightning goal with 17 shots, while Tampa Bay only managed five.
With their backs against the wall, it was a bleak outlook for the Lightning. That was until the strongest part of their game tonight, their penalty kill, turned the tide and drew first blood against the Blackhawks. Tampa Bay forward Chris Kunitz capitalized on a bit of havoc in the Chicago zone and fired in the first goal of the game late in the second.
With the threat of danger still looming toward the end of the third period, Tampa Bay’s Yanni Gourde would provide the dagger to the hearts of the Chicago faithful.
The young Lightning forward capitalized off of a series of great scoring chances by his linemates and sent a howitzer of a slap shot into the Chicago net at 18:26 into the final period. This goal would release a collective sigh from Lightning fans, as it became evident that this effort would stop a trend of heartache for the Lighting.
Gourde, who continues to impress during his young career, will need to take on a more vital role with the absence of Palat. If tonight is any indicator, I’d say he has it in him.
Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy dug deep in his bag of tricks tonight recording his seventh shutout of the season. This feat ties a franchise record previously set by Nikolai Khabibulin in the 2001-02 season.
Vasilevskiy did it all tonight.
He turned away 40 shots to lead his team to their first week in what seemed like an eternity. Having looked human the prior three games, the Russian goaltender looked anything but human tonight. Where the Lightning defense made a mistake, Vasilevskiy bailed them out with dynamic saves and shades of his first half season self.
This feat was even more impressive as the Chicago goaltender on the other side of the ice impressed as well. Jeff Glass did all he could to provide the Blackhawks with opportunities to stay in the game, but in the end, it would be the will of Vasilevskiy that won this one.
Three Stars of The Game
- Andrei Vasilevskiy, 40 save shutout win
- Chris Kunitz, GWG
- Jeff Glass, 29 save loss
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