The Tampa Bay Lightning had yet to win a game this season when trailing by two goals after two periods. That changed this evening as they won 3-2 in comeback fashion over the Chicago Blackhawks. The comeback stemmed from an explosive third-period crowned by Alex Killorn’s overtime heroics to win their sixth consecutive game. The goal scorers for Tampa Bay were Anthony Cirelli, Steven Stamkos, and Killorn. For Chicago, Ryan Carpenter and Patrick Kane netted goals. Andrei Vasilevskiy’s shutout streak ended, but the Russian netminder stopped 35 of 37 shots. Blackhawks goaltender Kevin Lankinen stopped 31 of 34.
It was immediately clear that these Hawks were not the hapless group Tampa Bay routed to start the season. The way the Blackhawks attacked the Lightning in all three zones revealed a team comfortable and confident in their system. Chicago’s offensive pressure repeatedly disrupted Tampa Bay’s breakouts, leading to bad passes and turnovers forcing the Lightning to either regroup or lose possession entirely. However, Chicago also struggled to withstand Tampa Bay’s offensive surges as great chances for Brayden Point, Ondrej Palat, and Alex Killorn were either stopped by Lankinen or missed altogether.
Overall, the period did not see many grade-A chances for either team, but Vasilevskiy was the busier goaltender. Chicago led in shot attempts 23-16, scoring chances 10-8, and high danger chances 3-2 in all situations. Tampa Bay held the edge in quality at 54%. An interesting thing to take note of are where the shots for both teams came from.
It’s slightly deceiving in the quality department for Tampa Bay given all that blue near the goal mouth came during one sequence where Palat’s shot snuck through Lankinen but trickled wide of the net. Aside from that, Chicago was clearly the more dangerous team during the period. The Blackhawks were consistently breaking into the slot for chances either off the rush or off broken plays.
That good news was that the Lightning recovered well in these situations and blocked ten shots. It’s become a part of their defensive identity when the opposition surges; bend, but don't break. It managed to work in this period, but prolonged play like this isn’t a recipe for success.
Luckily, the Lightning has shown, time and time again, that they are more than capable of bouncing back from surges like this.
The highlight of the period is Vasilevskiy’s shutout streak, at the end of the first, his streak sat at 220:45.
So, about what I said in the first period...
Plainly put, Chicago dominated this period. In all situations, the Blackhawks controlled 62% of the shot attempts, led in scoring chances 17-9, led in high danger chances 5-1, and dominated the quality battle at 72%. The fact the Lightning only allowed two goals is lucky in and of itself.
However, what makes the period taste even sourer is how disinterested Tampa Bay looked. The Lightning looked downright slow compared to the Blackhawks. This feels absurd given a pillar of this organization’s on-ice identity centers around quickness.
Vasilevskiy’s shutout streak ends at 228:09, a franchise record and one that will likely stand for years. The hard thing to swallow is how his streak ended; on the power-play with three of his teammates near him and a shot from a player with 22 goals in his career. Them’s the breaks in the NHL, it’s not always the big guns that beat you.
Oh, I’m sorry, did I say it’s not always the big guns? My bad...
This goal might change hands given the mess of bodies in front of Vasilevskiy, but this entire sequence sums up Tampa Bay’s evening. Out of sync.
Jon Cooper tried shuffling his lines up after Patrick Kane’s goal, and there was a slight uptick from Tampa Bay, but not enough to move the needle back toward their favor. The beginning of the third will automatically put the Lightning on their heels since Alex Volkov was called for high sticking with 4.8 seconds left.
The first three minutes of this period.
First, Cirelli scores another shorthanded goal.
SHORT-HANDED! @TBLightning on the board when Anthony Cirelli redirects Jan Rutta's missile!— FOX Sports Bolts (@FOXSportsBolts) March 5, 2021
Watch on FOX Sports Sun & FOX Sports Go: https://t.co/YrDzk4AnLp #GoBolts pic.twitter.com/jV3u92YBOs
Just 1:49 later, the Captain makes his presence known.
TIE GAME!— FOX Sports Bolts (@FOXSportsBolts) March 5, 2021
Steven Stamkos fires it off the draw and the @TBLightning are tied in the 3rd!
Watch on FOX Sports Sun & FOX Sports Go: https://t.co/YrDzk4AnLp #GoBolts pic.twitter.com/uW8Enc0HNu
The first 12-13 minutes of the third period saw Tampa Bay turn the tables on Chicago and thoroughly dominate play. It took until the final 6-7 minutes for Chicago to assert any kind of consistent offensive pressure. It was as if Tampa Bay flipped a switch in the third period and were on a mission to remind Chicago who they were. Whatever it was, the quick comeback and ensuing pressure set momentum squarely in Tampa Bay’s control.
There were some close calls for both teams, but Vasilevskiy and Lankinen were up to the task to keep their teams alive.
Regulation couldn’t solve this contest, so why not have some overtime?
Brought to you by, GIFs.
Early pressure by Chicago.
Tampa Bay getting possession and holding it.
DeBrincat hits the post
Sergachev misses the net on a counter-attack
Scramble in front of Lankinen!
Cirelli, Point, and Sergachev get a good chance!
HEDMAN SCORESSSSSSSSSSS AND BEATS THE BUZZZZZZZZZERRRRRRRRRRRRRRR
UPDATE: the goal was taken away from Hedman and given to Killorn instead. Other than that, no differences, continue your party!
MUST WATCH: BUZZER BEATER!— FOX Sports Bolts (@FOXSportsBolts) March 5, 2021
Victor Hedman gets it in with 0.1 seconds remaining! @TBLightning win in OT 3-2!
Postgame on FOX Sports Sun! #GoBolts pic.twitter.com/drpqh6g7hW