Blackhawks outclassed, exhausted, lose 6–3 to Tampa Bay

  

The Chicago Blackhawks came into Sunday’s action on a weird back and forth streak between wins and losses. Most recently, they dropped a winnable game against the Philadelphia Flyers in Philly, taking the lead into the third period and somehow managing to let it slip away. Sunday night’s game seemed from the outset to be a tougher win to try to pull off, as the Tampa Bay Lightning came to town on an absolute tear as of late, having won eight out of their last 10 games. Marc-Andre Fleury switched in for Kevin Lankinen in the second game of a back-to-back weekend.

First period

The Lightning stormed out of the gate, putting immediate pressure on the Blackhawks from the opening face-off. Eighteen seconds in, Steven Stamkos ripped a wrister off of the goal post behind Fleury, beating him but getting stopped by the iron.

After a couple minutes of back and forth, Corey Perry coughed up the puck in the Lightning defensive zone, leading to a great chance for the Blackhawks. Brandon Hagel got the puck over to Kirby Dach, who one-timed it and it looked good enough to hit the back of the net. Somehow, Andrei Vasilevskiy managed to get the shaft of his stick on the puck to keep it out of the net and keep the score 0–0.

With just over 12 minutes to go, Patrick Kane backhanded the puck across the ice to a streaking Dylan Strome, who put the puck past Vasilevskiy, making it 1–0 Blackhawks. For the rest of the period, it was a lot of back and forth, with both teams getting some offensive zone time, but not getting any chances that were likely to bring another goal about. The period would end with the Blackhawks up 1–0.

Second period

One minute into the period, the Lightning got back into the game. Callan Foote took a shot that was blocked, but the puck trickled through to Taylor Raddysh, who backhanded the puck past Fleury, knotting things up at 1–1.

A few minutes later, Hagel got the puck to Kane breaking into the zone. He used an Erik Cernak screen to wrist the puck right past Vasilevskiy’s glove, who never saw the shot, to make it 2–1 Blackhawks on a picture-perfect snipe.

The Lightning would get that goal back though, as with just under five minutes to go in the frame and shortly after their power play expired, the Lightning worked the puck around the zone to get it from Nikita Kucherov to Stamkos and then over to Victor Hedman, who was able to one time the puck past Fleury to tie the game up at 2–2.

A little over a minute later, Foote managed to get the puck after it came through a bunch of bodies on a rebound, putting it past a down-and-out Fleury to make it 3–2 at the end of two, in favor of the Lightning.

Third period

The Lightning like their early-period chances it would seem, as they got to work again from the outset of the frame. About two minutes in, Hedman struck again, as the puck found its way around to him at the right point. He once again blasted a shot that went seemingly right through the five hole on Fleury, making the lead 4–2 Tampa Bay. Like a Ronco knives commercial, we aren’t done yet! Perry forced a misplay from Jake McCabe and wristed the puck right past Fleury, 5–2 Lightning. But wait, there’s more! Mikhail Sergachev took a shot from the point that seemed to change direction out in front of the Blackhawks net, making the score 6–2 in favor of the Lightning, and all within just 32 seconds, seemingly putting the game out of reach in the blink of an eye.

The Blackhawks finally showed a sign of some life with just under 13 minutes to go, with Alex DeBrincat redirecting a Strome shot from the point past Vasilevskiy, cutting the gap to 6–3 Lightning. That is how the game would end, despite Kane’s best efforts to get another one past the Lighting netminder to help the Blackhawks claw their way back, but alas, Vasilevskiy would make another show-stopping highlight-reel save.

Analysis

The Blackhawks looked completely outmatched throughout much of this game. When it came to putting pressure on an opponent, the Lightning have been doing it better than anyone else all season long, and that clearly showed on Sunday. It was another frustrating game to watch as a Blackhawks fan in what has been a hard season to this point. It only seems to be a question of who will be gone at the trade deadline, and who else may be dealt later on when the offseason rolls around.

The Blackhawks will be back in action on Tuesday night at home against the Anaheim Ducks. That game will be on NBC Sports Chicago beginning at 7:30 p.m. CST.

Center Ice Forums Blackhawks outclassed, exhausted, lose 6–3 to Tampa Bay

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