Streaks were on the line tonight in this rematch between last year's Stanley Cup finalists. Chicago came in with a franchise record and tied-for-NHL-best-this season of 12 consecutive wins while the Lightning were riding their own season-high of six straight.
"It's always fun to play those teams. You know, defending champs and a team with 12 straight wins, those games are fun. Those are the games you really want to play as a hockey player." - Victor Hedman
The score doesn't really reflect how thoroughly the Lightning dominated this game. An "uh-oh" beginning was the only offense Chicago mustered, which gave way to an aggressive forecheck by the Lightning that completely shut down the high-powered attack of the Blackhawks. Meanwhile, an incredible performance by Chicago goaltender Corey Crawford kept the Lightning from scoring at least three more goals and running away with it.
"This might have been our best game of the season. We played 60 minutes and we got rewarded for it. This is the way we want to play, honestly. This is how we can play and it hasn't always been there, but there are still a lot of games left and if we play like this, I think we will be fine." - Anton Stralman
The Lightning got an early scoring chance just 23 seconds in when Ryan Callahan was denied on a partial breakaway attempt. The Blackhawks turned that right around and scored just 20 seconds later on their first shot of the game, a goal by Artem Anisimov. Lightning starting goalie Ben Bishop would go on to stop the next 17 shots he would see over the remainder of the game.
"He was big. Especially against a team like that who is so talented. they are going to get their opportunities, they are going to get their chances and Bish stood tall like he has been all year for us. He has been our backbone and he continued tonight." - Callahan
The Lightning would tie the game at 7:14 when Stralman deflected a Hedman slapshot to beat Crawford down low.
The period ended with the teams tied at one and the Lightning outshooting Chicago 13-4.
The Lightning got what would turn out to be the eventual game winner and streak extender/buster at 16:39 of the second on a power play goal from Nikita Kucherov, assisted by Hedman and Alex Killorn.
They would end the second period with the lead and a 23-9 advantage in shots.
The rest of the game was tight because of the score but the Lightning never relented with their attack, avoiding the twin traps of being conservative or complacent. They outshot Chicago 10-9 in the third, and 33-18 for the game.
"If you keep opponents to under 20 shots a game, you are giving yourself a good chance to win." - Hedman
The Lightning's next game will be a visit to Sunrise to face the Atlantic Division-leading Florida Panthers on Saturday before returning to Amalie Arena next Wednesday to host the Toronto Maple Leafs.
- This was the last of two regular season meetings between Chicago and Tampa Bay, with the teams splitting outcomes, although the Lightning did pick up an extra point for losing in overtime in Chicago.
- The Lightning did see one streak come to an end; their run of scoring at least three goals ended at six straight games. They're 20-2-3 in games when they've scored three or more this season.
- Tonight was the first time since January 8, the first game of the current streak, that the Lightning didn't score first.
- Tyler Johnson was a perfect 10-for-10 in faceoffs.
- The Lightning haven't lost in regulation to the Blackhawks at home since December 13, 2009, compiling a record of 7-0-2 since then. They are 10-4-1 with three ties all-time against CHI at home.
- The Lightning, specifically the line of Valtteri Filppula, J.T. Brown and Callahan, held Chicago's Jonathan Toews to a single shot.
- The current seven-game winning streak is now the second longest in franchise history. The team record is eight, which happened between February 23 and March 6, 2004.
- Tampa Bay defenders have scored 12 goals in the last 16 games after notching just seven in the first 31 games to start the season.
- The Lightning honored Tawny Swain Castle as the 24th Lightning Community Hero of the 2015-16 season during the first period of tonight's game. Swain Castle, who received a $50,000 donation from the Lightning Foundation and the Lightning Community Heroes program, will donate the money to the Homeless Emergency Project (HEP), Dunedin Dog Rescue, PetPal and Project PUPS. Tonight's community hero's life mission is to serve others and she keeps pursuing it to this day. Swain Castle began to volunteer at HEP, where she would help with providing canine-assisted therapy services to homeless veterans who suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and other mental illnesses. In addition, she also implanted a wellness program that teaches homeless individuals how to cope with chronic illnesses. Her charitable efforts has improved the quality of life of those in need throughout the Greater Tampa Bay area. Swain Castle will continue to raise and spread awareness of the benefits of canine-assisted therapy to veterans, decrease the number of homeless within the community and help individuals with chronic illnesses to manage their symptoms. Swain Castle becomes the 203rd Lightning Community Hero since Jeff and Penny Vinik introduced the program in 2011-12 with a $10 million, five-season commitment to the Tampa Bay community. Through this evening's game, in total, the Lightning Foundation has granted $10.3 million to more than 300 different non-profits in the Greater Tampa Bay area.