Just about everything that could’ve gone wrong for the Blackhawks did in Wednesday’s season opener, as the Lightning scored three goals in the first period en route to a 5-0 win.
After a sloppy first half of the opening period for both teams, Tampa got on the board first when Ondrej Palat corralled a loose rebound with a nifty kick-to-the-stick and tucked it past Chicago goaltender Malcolm Subban, who made his first Blackhawks start in the loss.
A little over five minutes later, Subban was caught out of his net, resulting in a goal from Mathieu Joseph that doubled Tampa’s lead.
Just 1:39 later, Anthony Cirelli scored with an absurd redirect of a shot from the boards off the stick of Erik Cernak.
Here's a closer look at just the tip. pic.twitter.com/JClBhDv2K9— Brandon Cain (@brandonmcain) January 14, 2021
And that was pretty much the end of it.
Tampa added another power play goal on a one-timer from Steven Stamkos in the second period, then Stamkos set up Brayden Point for the fifth and final goal of the game in the third period.
If there was one highlight for the Blackhawks, it was this ridiculous save by Subban in the third period.
They also managed to spoil Andrei Vasilevskiy’s shutout bid thanks to this pinball action from behind the net by Dylan Strome:
Of course it’s only one game. Of course the Blackhawks roster has been depleted by injuries to Jonathan Toews and Kirby Dach. Of course the Lightning are the defending Stanley Cup champions.
But I’d like to refer back to what appeared in the preview this morning: “There’s a difference between a team that routinely loses by a goal or two because of rookie mistakes and a team that gets run out of the building on a nightly basis.”
The Blackhawks were run out of the building tonight. The charts below from Natural Stat Trick are barely indicative of how one-sided this affair was. It can be treated as an anomaly if it remains the exception and not the rule in Blackhawks games this season. But if Chicago gets thrashed by teams that aren’t the defending champions, like the Panthers or Blue Jackets or — God help us — the Red Wings, then the calls for front office firings that never really calmed down are only going to get louder.
Losses can be tolerated if there are signs of progress on the ice. Feel free to scroll down to the comments and let us know if any such signs were visible on Wednesday evening because this author couldn’t find one.
- Steven Stamkos (TBL) — 1 goal, 2 assists
- Brayden Point (TBL) — 1 goal, 1 assist
- Anthony Cirelli (TBL) — 1 goal, 1 assist
The Blackhawks will remain in Tampa and play the Lightning again on Friday night at 7 p.m.