The Chicago Blackhawks hung around in this game longer than they should have, but the Tampa Bay Lightning’s depth proved to be too much as the Bolts scored twice in the third to put the game away with a 5-2 score.
Steven Stamkos assisted on the first goal and scored the final goal. The captain of the Lightning now has five points on the season and has recorded a point in 17 straight regular season games dating back to last season. The team’s depth was on full display in the second period as the top three lines all scored within six minutes of each other.
Tyler Johnson recorded an assist and won half of the face-offs he took in his first game of the season. Inserted on the second line with Anthony Cirelli and Alex Killorn, the veteran skated really well as that line generated several Grade A chances.
While Chicago looked better than they did in the first game, when the Lightning put pressure on them in the offensive zone, they couldn’t handle it. Still, Andrei Vasilevskiy had to be sharp, especially in the first period, to keep the Hawks from stealing a point or two. The Big Cat ended up with 35 saves on 37 shots.
Line-up changes on both sides of the ice as Johnson and Luke Schenn made their season debuts for the Lightning with Alex Volkov and Cal Foote getting the night off. For the Hawks, Colin Delia was between the pipes in place of Malcolm Subban while Philipp Kurashev drew in for Brandon Pirri.
It wasn’t the cleanest period for the Lightning as they struggled at times to get the puck out of their own zone cleanly. Credit to the Hawks for bringing a little more intensity to the ice than they did on opening night. Even with their slightly sluggish play the Lightning had a couple of golden opportunities. First Anthony Cirelli was sprung by a long pass by Victor Hedman, but Delia smothered his breakaway chance.. Later in the period Yanni Gourde fired a one-timer right into the crest of the goaltender off of a nice feed from Barclay Goodrow.
There were a couple of uncomfortable moments for Lightning fans. First Mikhail Sergachev left the ice in pain after a knee-to-knee collision with Connor Murphay. The electric defenseman missed a shift, but was back on the ice for the power play and ended up with 21:51 of ice time.
Later in the period Steven Stamkos was dumped into the goalpost. While he popped right up, seeing him slide feet first into the metal posts drags back some scary memories.
Vasilevskiy was sharp in the period, making a key save on Dominik Kubalik from the slot just seven minutes into the game. He also stretched to the limit to deny Matthew Highmore on a stuff attempt off of a puck that ricocheted off of the end boards.
Maybe the Lightning thought that the game started at 8:00 p.m. like on opening night. They came out buzzing in the second period and their forecheck gave Chicago’s young defense fits. It also didn’t help that Delia didn’t sense Steven Stamkos behind him when he went to play the puck. The captain fed it out front to Ondrej Palat who put it past the scrambling goaltender.
Ondrej Palat (Steven Stamkos)
The Lightning kept things going as the Yanni Gourde line pressured the Hawks in their own zone like it was the playoffs or something. While they didn’t get the goal, they set up Anthony Cirelli’s line for success. That was a hallmark from the run last year, one line feeding off of the energy from the one before it.
The Lightning won a battle along the boards and Tyler Johnson fed it to Killorn who is in the slot. The Harvard man snapped a wrister under the bar and into the back of the net for his first goal of the season.
Alex Killorn (Tyler Johnson, Anthony Cirelli)
The Lightning kept piling the good shifts up as well as shots. Chicago was lost in their own end and did not handle pressure very well as they kept turning the puck over. Against any of the Lightning lines, that’s a bad idea. Three minutes and change after Killorn’s goal, it was the Gourde line’s time to put one on the board.
Nothing fancy here, just get to the net and win the battle for the puck. Delia came out of his crease to make a save and Blake Coleman backed into it, controlled the puck and was able to slide it into the back of the net for the goal.
Blake Coleman (Barclay Goodrow, Yanni Gourde)
Chicago challenged the goal. After a brief review the refs confirmed it was a good goal and the Lightning were awarded a power play. It looked like the route might be on, but despite surrendering a few really good chances, the Hawks kept them off of the board.
The visitors settled down after that and started to push back a little. A bad tripping penalty by Goodrow on an offensive face-off led to a power play for Chicago. They worked the puck around the perimeter really well. Dylan Strome had the puck down low to Vasilevskiy’s left. Instead of trying to stuff it home, he slid it over to Alex DeBrincat and the young sniper beat the goalie cleanly.
Some of the problems from the first period leaked back into the Lightning’s game and a turnover in their own zone led to another goal. DeBrincat jumped on a pass heading behind the net and made a nifty dish to Patrick Kane who was cutting in front of the net. The veteran didn’t miss and what had looked to be a blowout was suddenly a 3-2 game.
Anthony Cirelli split the defense toward the end of the period and had a chance to make it 4-2, but Delia made the save. Killorn collided with Andrew Shaw away from the puck as the play continued and was called for interference. Vasilevskiy had to make a difficult, stickless save at the buzzer to keep Chicago from tying the game.
The Lightning started off shorthanded as they had to kill off the rest of the Killorn penalty. Which they did. Apparently they didn’t think they had enough work because Brayden Point took a holding call in the offensive zone to send Chicago back on the power play. Vasilevskiy made a couple of nice blocker saves to keep the Hawks off of the scoreboard.
Following the penalties, Tampa got things moving in a positive direction again. They weren’t able to capitalize on a power play, but shortly after Yanni Gourde extended the lead to two goals as he fired a shot past Delia off of the rush. The Lightning’s ability to handle the puck at speed and get shots off on transition plays is one of their strongest assets.
Goodrow dishes the puck off and drives to the net. That gives Coleman and Gourde the space to work the one timer and Gourde doesn’t waste the opportunity.
Yanni Gourde (Blake Coleman, Barclay Goodrow)
Five minutes later, the captain scored on a similar play. This time it was Ondrej Palat who fed the puck to Stamkos and he wristed it over Delia’s glove.
Steven Stamkos (Ondrej Palat, Brayden Point)
The Lightning held on for the 5-2 win and move to 2-0 on the season. With the scheduled series against Dallas postponed until later in the season, they now have almost a week until their next game.