The Tampa Bay Lightning (22-22-5) are in desperation mode as they have sunk to the bottom of the Atlantic Division while the Chicago Blackhawks (30-15-5) sit comfortably near the top in theirs. This, like the rest of the season, was a must win for the Bolts and tonight they faced another great foe. Were they able to fell the Blackhawks and claim two big points? Let’s recap tonight’s action and see what happened!
First Period: The Lightning started off the game managing puck possession, but were unable to squeeze their way deep into Chicago’s offensive zone. They would be tested on the penalty kill early as rookie defenseman Jack Dotchin was whistled for hooking at 4:18, but were successful in killing off the man advantage. Midway through the period, the Blackhawks began to push back and their efforts would be rewarded with the game’s opening goal as captain Jonathan Toews skipped one past Tampa Bay goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy at 10:23. The Lightning decided to walk on the edge as Nikita Nesterov took the Bolts’ second penalty of the game and, after some pleasantries and a Paquette 10-minute misconduct, barely killed off the Chicago power play. The Lightning would suddenly find some life with little over a minute left in the period as Brian Boyle received a Valteri Filppula pass up the middle and split the Chicago defense only to use a pair of silk mittens and slide the puck behind goaltender Corey Crawford to tie the game. The first period came to a close with the Lightning giving a little push back and leaving us excited for the second.
Second Period: The start of the second would be a disappointment for the Lightning as they let Chicago sustain pressure in their zone. This lapse in play led to a Duncan Keith slap shot that barreled past Vasilevskiy and put the Blackhawks back on top 2-1 just 1:26 into the second. Then, as if Tampa Bay remembered they were in a hockey game, the Lightning displayed their own extended play in Chicago’s defensive zone. They however would not be rewarded with the tying goal, coming up empty on a power play despite having some good looks. For the rest of the period, both teams traded momentum, but the buzzer sounded and the Lightning trailed the Blackhawks 2-1 going into the third.
Third Period: In the third, the Lightning would take a page from the Blackhawks as defenseman Nikita Nesterov displayed his own version of a slap shot from the point as he was fed the puck off an offensive zone face-off and barreled the puck into the net at the 2:47 mark to tie the game at two apiece. The good times for Tampa Bay wouldn’t stop there as fresh off a Blackhawk shot that hit the post, Alex Killorn surged into the offensive zone and set up Tyler Johnson for the Lightning’s first lead of the game, then found Johnson again 30 seconds later to push the Bolts to a 4-2 lead. The rest of the game would show us the Vasilevskiy the Lightning knew they had. He shoved off several Chicago scoring attempts and made miraculous saves to pave the way for the Lightning to win this one 5-2 after a Nikita Kucherov empty net goal.
Three Stars of The Game:
- Tyler Johnson, 2 goals (GWG)
- Alex Killorn, 2 assists
- Andrei Vasilevskiy, 34 saves
Next up: Tampa Bay Lightning (22-22-5) vs. Florida Panthers (20-19-10) on Thursday night at 7:30pm at the BB&T Center in Sunrise.
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