Sunday’s matinee at the United Center saw the Blackhawks take an early 3-0 lead against the Lightning. However, after allowing six unanswered goals, the Hawks ultimately fell to Tampa Bay 6-3, closing out a three game home series 1-1-1.
The Blackhawks jumped out to an early lead on a goal from Philipp Kurashev.
Kurashev came up empty on an earlier attempt but thanks to some fancy stickwork and patience, he was able to convert on a close-in backhand shot.
Chicago ended the first period up 2-0 after Mattias Janmark was able to swat a bouncing puck out of mid-air and into the back of the net. Janmark’s goal was set up by some stellar passing from Patrick Kane and Dominik Kubalik.
The rather eventful second period saw the Blackhawks continue to add to their lead, with Janmark feeding Pius Suter, setting up a five-hole tally.
Tampa began to climb back into the game when forward Ondrej Palat scored a power-play goal to make it 3-1.
Just 23 seconds later, Tampa’s Yanni Gourde followed his own rebound and generated a goal on a quick snapshot from the left wing circle.
WIthin four minutes of Tampa Bay’s first goal, Victor Headman’s power-play goal tied the game 3-3.
Midway through the period, Connor Murphy collided behind the net with Lightning defenseman Erik Cernak, in what was a dangerous incidental hit to the head. While Murphy does not have a history of dirty or dangerous plays, he was given a game misconduct due to the nature of the hit.
The Hawks killed off the five-minute penalty but were once again short-handed a few minutes later due to a high sticking penalty taken by Janmark. Gourde converted for his second goal on the day, giving Tampa their first lead of the game.
Following Gourde’s tally, Alex Killorn’s wrist shot from the top of the left wing circle gave the Lighting a 5-3 lead.
Tampa added their fourth power-play goal of the game on a Pat Maroon goal, which closed out the scoring. That was the sixth unanswered goal scored by Tampa Bay.
- The Blackhawks edged out the Lightning in possession slightly in the first period, owning 55 percent of the shot attempts. However, these numbers decreased as the game went on. Lightning coach Jon Cooper adjusted and had his team dominate in the neutral zone, putting on a clinic once they decided to park the bus.
- Kevin Lankinen once again gave the Hawks every opportunity to stay in the game, with 33 saves on 39 shots — 11 of which were high danger chances. Strong goalie play continues to be the story so far.
- While some of the penalties for each side seemed a bit on the soft side, Tampa Bay took advantage of their power-play opportunities. The Hawks failed to convert on all but one power play. There is no excuse for giving up six unanswered goals.
- Murphy is not a dirty player, nor has he gone out of his way to chase hits. However, incidental as it may have been, his hit on Cernak was still a dangerous play. A hit to the head like that is a major penalty. Calling a game misconduct there is done as to prevent the game from getting out of hand with retaliatory tactics. I’m a big Murphy fan, I do not fault him at all. However, the correct call on the ice was made.
- The Hawks showed that their compete level going into games against top level talent is absolutely there. However, it was clear that the Bolts are more than capable of flipping a switch which makes skating with them an uphill battle. I saw a lot of good from the Hawks over this three-game stretch but there’s still a lot of work to do.
- The upcoming games against Florida, Dallas and later Nashville are going to tell us a lot about what the Hawks are by the midway point of the season. It seems like adding Dach and Toews into the mix would help a lot. Looking ahead, the Blackhawks forward group is quite encouraging. Alex DeBrincat is becoming a star. They are finally adding some speed on the back end. It has been fun. I like fun. Here’s to a fun Hawks team.
- Yanni Gourde (TB) - 2 goals, 2 assist, 5 shots on goal
- Ondrej Palat (TB) - 1 goal, 1 assist, 4 shots on goal
- Victor Hedman (TB) 1 goal, 1 assist, 27:19 time on ice
The Blackhawks travel to the American Airlines Center in Dallas for 7:30 p.m. puck drop against the Stars on Tuesday.