Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Ryan Malone (12) tries to catch Chicago Blackhawks left wing Brandon Saad (20) during the first period of an NHL hockey game on Thursday, Oct. 24, 2013, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Reinhold Matay)
Bryan Bickell scored his third goal in three games, and Andrew Shaw, Patrick Kane, and Marian Hossa all added tallies, but it wasn't enough, as Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin coughed up a juicy rebound in overtime that Tampa Bay Lightning captain Martin St. Louis potted to give his team a 6-5 overtime victory.
The first period got off to a bit of a mixed start for the Hawks, as they dominated the shots on goal category but weren’t doing the little things right that are required of them to win games. Their back-checking wasn’t up to snuff, so they were letting the Lightning get out of the zone with relative ease, despite the lack of scoring opportunities that the Bolts got.
Unfortunately for Chicago, it was the Lightning who got on the board early, as Matt Carle scored in the waning seconds of a power play to give Tampa the 1-0 lead. The Hawks themselves got a power play chance later in the period, but despite that man-advantage situation and outshooting the Lightning by a 12-4 margin, the Hawks found themselves trailing by that 1-0 margin heading into the first intermission.
In the second period, it appeared that the Lightning were going to get a chance to put the game away. In the midst of a Hawks’ power play, Patrick Sharp pinched in from the point, and when his shot went wide of the net and caromed out into the middle of the ice, the Bolts were able to spring a 2-on-1 the other way, and Nate Thompson put the puck past Nikolai Khabibulin to give Tampa a 2-0 lead and all of the momentum in the process.
The Hawks seemed content to just let the game come to them until a faceoff in Tampa territory towards the middle of the frame. Bryan Bickell ended up collecting a rebound off of a point shot by Brent Seabrook, and the easy tap-in gave Bickell his third goal in three games and pulled the Hawks to within one.
That tally seemed to energize the Blackhawks, and they got on the board again a minute and a half later, as Marian Hossa deflected a shot from Sharp in an excellent feat of hand-eye coordination to knot things up at 2-2. The tie game was short-lived, however, as Steven Stamkos showed off some of his best moves on a coast-to-coast rush that culminated with the sniper firing a wrist shot to the far side of the net to give the Lightning the lead right back at 3-2.
Just like he did when Alex Ovechkin scored a sizzling wrister in the Hawks’ home opener, Kane responded in kind a short time later. Kane collected the puck off the stick of Eric Brewer near the Hawks’ blue line, and brought the puck all the way down on a breakaway and fired it through Bishop’s five-hole to tie the game at 3-3 just before the second intermission.
The break in the action didn’t seem to slow the Hawks down at all, as they got an early power play in the third period and took full advantage, with Kane firing a shot from the face-off circle that Shaw deflected near his knees and past Bishop to give the Hawks’ their first lead of the evening at 4-3.
The two teams exchanged chances, with both goaltenders making some tremendous stops, but it was the Lightning who were able to finally put one home, as Viktor Hedman rushed back up the ice and was able to feather a shot through Khabibulin’s legs to tie the game at 4-4. Stamkos was pushed into Khabibulin on the play, but after a brief conference the officials decided to let the goal stand, gleaning some looks of consternation from both Jonathan Toews and Khabibulin.
Both teams traded some serious chances, but the Lightning looked like they sealed it for good when Stamkos fired a puck from the point on the power play that ended up deflecting off of Johnny Oduya to give the Lightning a 5-4 lead. Mere seconds later though, the Lightning had a massive gaffe, as the puck was stripped off of Toews' stick at center ice, and on a pass back to the point, Lightning defenseman Radko Gudas deflected the puck on net, and it evaded Bishop to tie the game at 5-5.
Just a minute into the overtime period though, the Lightning struck one more time. Khabibulin was unable to handle a shot, and when he had difficulty collecting the rebound and bouncing all over the ice trying to do so, St. Louis picked the puck up and fired it past him to send Bolts fans home happy.
The Hawks, who have now lost six consecutive games to the Lightning, will return home on Saturday to begin a home-and-home series with the Minnesota Wild.