Patrick Kane scored twice early but the Chicago Blackhawks needed more in a 3-2 overtime loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Wednesday night. Brayden Point scored the game-winner in extra time for the Bolts, who improve to a league-best 16-3-2 with the victory.
Point’s goal came on a 4-on-3 power play after Nick Schmaltz got busted for slashing to put an end to 3-on-3 action. At that point, we were all just hoping the game would go to a shootout, but it took just a matter of seconds for Steven Stamkos to set up Point near the blue point to wrap up the comeback.
It was a largely solid effort from the Blackhawks, especially early on, but they were facing the best offense in the league. Of course two goals wouldn’t be good enough, right?
Kane got the Blackhawks on the scoreboard a couple times in the first period to establish the early lead. The first goal was a perfect snap of the wrists to squeeze one by the goaltender.
The second goal came on the power play after a gorgeous passing sequence that forced Andrei Vasilevskiy to scramble in net. Eventually Cody Franson fired a hot cross-ice pass to Kane, who finished for his second goal of the period.
The Lightning were able to trim the lead in half after a Kane error when the winger lost the puck on a power play. The turnover initiated a 3-on-1 rush for Tampa Bay that ended with Ondrej Palat firing one following a gorgeous passing sequence.
Then just 31 seconds into the third period, Lightning winger Chris Kunitz scored his third goal of the season to tie the game. The Blackhawks had several good chances after that, including a 2-on-1 rush with Artem Anisimov and Schmaltz where the second-year winger shot it wide, but regulation ended with a 2-2 tie.
The Blackhawks are now 2-3 in 3-on-3 overtimes this season. None of their games have gone to a shootout.
CHI GOALS: Kane 2 (7, 8)
TB GOALS: Palat (6), Kunitz (3), Point (9)
These two teams should play another Stanley Cup Final
The one in 2015 was pretty damn good, but seeing these two teams match up now? It’d be an absolute barnburner because these teams love to play at a fast pace and keep the puck moving.
The Lightning may have a better chance of getting out of the East than the Blackhawks in the West right now, but a rematch isn’t out of question. And if we were somehow given that matchup again, it’d probably be one wild series based on this game.
How did the Blackhawks keep this game close? Here are what the power play numbers looked like at the end of regulation:
The Lightning entered Wednesday with the league’s best power play at 28 percent.
Apparently it was just a matter of time, though.
Q shakes up his defensive matchups
Usually it’s Duncan Keith’s pairing that faces the opposing team’s best players, but Joel Quenneville took a different route against Tampa Bay. Instead, Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov saw more minutes against Gustav Forsling and Jan Rutta, with Keith only facing those matchups during some minutes next to Brent Seabrook.
It’s unclear what this means for the defense going forward, but it’s another example of how Quenneville is experimenting with his defense early this season. Another example is Seabrook being pulled from the power play, which seems to have two positive effects: (a) lower workload for Seabrook (b) new options on a power play that needed a shake up.
One of the clear goals here seems to be to test just what Forsling and Rutta are capable of together, which makes sense given their solid performances of late. If that can mean easing off Keith and Seabrook a bit, too, then it could be good for everyone involved.
- Brayden Point (TB) — 1 goal, 4 SOG
- Patrick Kane (CHI) — 2 goals, 5 SOG
- Andrei Vasilevskiy (TB) — 29 saves on 31 shots