Along the Boards: Blackhawks take over in third, beat Lightning 5–2


The Blackhawks came into tonight’s contest having dropped a rough game to the St. Louis Blues by a score of 6–5 on Tuesday. The loss was the first time since Christmas that Corey Crawford had let up more than three goals, and the team simply had a hard time keeping the puck away from the net. The Blackhawks were hoping this one would be a different game from that one, and boy, was it ever. The Tampa Bay Lightning were missing some key players, as Steven Stamkos, Patrick Maroon and new acquisition Blake Coleman were all out of the lineup, so this game would be played against a different group than the Lightning’s very best.

First period

The game started off with some back and forth, with both teams getting some quality chances in front of each others’ nets before Connor Murphy got called for hooking, which gave the Lightning their first power play of the evening. The Blackhawks killed that off thanks to some good shot blocks and good saves by Crawford. Then, shortly thereafter, the Blackhawks got their first power play of the night on a Yanni Gourde tripping call. Chicago was entirely unsuccessful on the man advantage, not getting many chances on net and giving up another power play to the Lightning on a Patrick Kane hook. That penalty was also killed off, giving way to more even-strength back and forth.

The Blackhawks got another opportunity on the power play with just under seven minutes to go, but once again, the Lightning were able to kill that one off. Sounding like a broken record, the Blackhawks went on the penalty kill right after that when Brandon Saad got his stick up high on Zach Bogosian. The Blackhawks killed that off, and then got their third man advantage of the period on an Alex Killorn trip. The Blackhawks would not score on that power play, but it would carry over to the second period. This period of penalties would end with the same 0–0 tie that we started off with.

Second period

The Blackhawks’ power play again failed to generate a goal, although they did get the best shot on Curtis McElhinney they had to that point, but could not do anything with it. The Blackhawks picked up a gift power play shortly after, as the Lightning picked up a too-many-men-on-the-ice call at the 6:20 mark of the period. Chicago seemed to have the mindset of passing instead of shooting the puck on goal, as their pass total was greater than their shots on goal for all four of their power plays to that point.

This period was not very exciting to watch, as there ended up being more turnovers of the puck than actual chances on net for either side. At the 10:42 mark there was, yes, another penalty called (surprise, surprise), this time on Connor Murphy for tripping, giving the Lightning their next man advantage of the game. Tampa Bay failed to convert on that one due to some great saves by Crawford, leaving the game still knotted at a 0–0 tie.

Then, the Lightning finally broke through, as Brayden Point skated around the defense and let go of a wrister from between the circles that got past Crawford and gave Tampa Bay a 1–0 lead. That is how the period would end, with the Lightning outshooting the Blackhawks by a wide margin, and as a result, taking the lead.

Third period

Things started off roughly for the visitors, as the Lightning doubled their lead on a Nikita Kucherov tap-in goal to make the score 2–0 Lightning just 17 seconds into the frame. At the 2:28 mark of the period, Luke Schenn took an interference penalty that gave the Blackhawks another chance to get the powerless play out on the ice. They did not look good again, but surprisingly were able to keep possession in the offensive zone, which led to Saad getting the puck in front and getting the Blackhawks to within one at 2–1.

Just 26 ticks later, Duncan Keith took a big hit to make a play, getting the puck to Patrick Kane who got it to Dominik Kubalik, who scored on his own rebound, tying the game at 2–2. Slater Koekkoek took an interference call after that, giving the Lightning another power play opportunity. The Blackhawks killed that off and a little while later, the very same Koekkoek got the puck out at the point, skated to the middle and wristed the puck through a sea of legs and into the back of the net, giving the Blackhawks a 3–2 lead.

Once again, the Blackhawks got back on the man advantage on a Kucherov slash on Kane. The puck found its way to the rookie sensation once again, and Kubalik slapped a top-shelf bullet past McElhinney to make the score 4–2 Blackhawks.

The Lightning tried to get back into the game by getting an extra attacker, but that gave Kubalik his third goal of the night for the hat trick, making the score 5–2 Blackhawks. The Blackhawks showed some fight throughout the third period until the end, even getting into some extracurriculars toward the end of things, and pulled out the comeback victory after scoring five third-period goals.

Let’s go along the boards and see what was being talked about during tonight’s action.

I agree that it definitely is not going to be an overnight fix at all. There is much work to be done in the offseason, and to start with, I would say this front office and coaching staff need to go. They are not doing anything to get this team turned around and moving in a positive direction. Sitting on your trade chips for too long and barely getting two trades that needed to happen done is inexcusable. I also am someone who sees Jeremy Colliton as a good assistant coach in the league, but definitely is not cut out to be a head coach at this point. There is no fight from him, and that clearly shows with the way the team in front of him plays night by night.

Crawford looked good in this game. He made some good saves on some crazy Lightning shots and did everything he could to keep his team in this game. He controlled rebounds well, and was great at keeping the puck away from the opposition. Murphy…yikes; that is not a pretty stat to see.

As did all Blackhawks fans, my friend. A pleasant surprise in what has been a difficult season to watch.

The Blackhawks are back in action on Saturday against the Florida Panthers. The game will start at 5 p.m. CST on NBC Sports Chicago.

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