Corey Crawford made 27 saves, and Patrick Kane scored the lone goal in the shootout as the Chicago Blackhawks picked up a hard-fought 3-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday night at the United Center.
Brad Richards and Marcus Kruger scored goals for the Blackhawks in regulation as they beat the Lightning for the first time since 2009. Ben Bishop made 37 saves for the Lightning, but it wasn’t enough as they fell just short of going a perfect 3-for-3 on their current road trip.
The Blackhawks got off to a good early start in the first period, with their first line really driving possession. Kris Versteeg tried to jam home a shot off a rebound, but Ben Bishop made the first of many key saves. The Lightning seemed taken aback by the intense pressure, and eventually Anton Stralman fired a puck over the glass to give Chicago their first power play of the game.
Despite the man-advantage situation, it was Tampa Bay that ended up capitalizing as they burned the Hawks for a short-handed goal. After a pass by Patrick Kane in the offensive zone was deflected up into the air, the Lightning went down the ice. Richards attempted to pokecheck the puck at center ice, but when he missed, Ondrej Palat took advantage of the ensuing 2-on-1 rush and fed a perfect pass to Cedric Paquette. His shot slithered through Corey Crawford’s pads, and the Lightning took a 1-0 lead.
Later in the period the Blackhawks’ fourth line came up with a big chance, as Jeremy Morin broke in between two Lightning defenders in the offensive zone. He was hooked on the play by Andrej Sustr, but the Hawks couldn’t take advantage of the power play. Kane and Jonathan Toews both had great chances in the sequence, but Bishop stood tall and made the stops to keep Tampa in front as the halfway mark of the period passed.
The Blackhawks got one more power play late in the first period, but once again they were unable to find the back of the net. Brandon Saad had a good chance from in close, and a Richards shot bounced off of Bishop’s mask, but neither went in as Tampa Bay maintained their 1-0 lead after 20 minutes despite being outshot by a 19-6 margin.
As the second period got underway, the Hawks once again piled up scoring chances and the Lightning goaltender stood on his head to stop them all. Peter Regin narrowly missed on a rebound attempt from a Brent Seabrook shot, and then the Hawks had a golden chance on a 2-on-1 rush. Kris Versteeg fed a perfect pass across to Kane, but his shot was stopped by Bishop just short of the line and Valtteri Filppula knocked the puck out of the crease to keep his team in front.
After yet another unsuccessful power play, the Hawks kept the puck in the zone and were rewarded with their first goal of the game. Richards took a shot toward the net that ended up being blocked back, and with Versteeg falling in front of Bishop thanks to a nice shove from a Lightning defender, Richards fired the rebound off the goaltender and into the net to tie things up at 1-1.
The physicality in the game got ratcheted up in a big way in the following minutes as both teams sent players to the penalty box following a netfront fracas. The Lightning did pick up an extra minor for roughing, but Chicago couldn’t score on that power play. They did get more time on the man-advantage thanks to Eric Brewer’s high-sticking minor, but they had to settle for some carryover time as the second period ended with the sides tied.
Just after the power play ended early in the third period, the Hawks were able to take the lead. After Niklas Hjalmarsson sprinted to the point to keep the puck in the zone, he fired a shot toward the net. Kruger opened up his stick blade and deflected it past Bishop, and the Hawks seized a 2-1 lead.
While the Lightning had been the team racking up penalties in the first two periods, the Hawks took their turn over the next five minutes of the game. Hjalmarsson was whistled first for slashing, and just after that Lightning power play ended Seabrook headed to the box for a vicious cross-check to Tyler Johnson’s ribs. Neither man-advantage situation benefitted them however, and the Hawks stayed in front.
After Johnny Oduya was stunned by a shot block near the midway point of the period, the Lightning were able to take advantage of his precarious situation and tied things up. A clearing attempt around the boards hit an official, and after Jonathan Drouin fed a pass to Steven Stamkos, the Lightning captain slid a pass across the crease to Nikita Kucherov. He popped it into the left side of the net, and with 10 minutes to go the game was tied up at 2-2.
Over the final 10 minutes of the contest, the Blackhawks continued to fire away at Bishop, but they were held at bay. Toews had a breakaway at the beginning of a 4-on-4 stretch of hockey, but Bishop made the save. Duncan Keith also had a shot robbed by Bishop as the goaltender extended his leg pad out and barely tipped a shot aside with his toes.
Anton Stralman did get one final look for the Lightning with a minute to go in regulation, but Crawford made the save and took the game to overtime.
After neither team was able to break the deadlock in the five minute extra session, the game headed to a shootout. Ryan Callahan and Toews were both stopped on their first shot attempts, and Kucherov was stopped by Crawford to keep things scoreless. Kane made a slick move as he approached Bishop on Chicago’s second attempt, and he forced a backhanded shot just inside the post to put his team ahead.
Crawford faced Stamkos to wrap things up for the Lightning, and when he made a save with his left pad the Hawks seized a victory on home ice over the top team in the Eastern Conference.
Chicago will next hit the ice on Friday night when they travel to the Motor City for their lone trip to Joe Louis Arena as they face the Detroit Red Wings.