The Tampa Bay Lightning began their long road trip with a rare early-evening game against the Chicago Blackhawks. For a period it looked like it might be a long night for the Bolts, but a vicious outburst of offense early in the third period turned a close game into a 6-3 victory for the road team. Andrei Vasilevskiy ran his career record to 12-0 against Chicago with 24 saves, several of the spectacular variety.
Much of the offense came via the blue line as Victor Hedman had two goals with Cal Foote and Mikhail Sergachev also chipping goals. Taylor Raddysh and Corey Perry represented the forwards on the goal sheet. For Chicago it was the top line of Dylan Strome, Patrick Kane, and Alex DeBrincat providing the offense while Marc-Andre Fleury made 26 saves on 32 shots.
It started off with the second line buzzing in the Chicago zone. The Hawks were scrambling to keep up with the Lightning cycle and Steven Stamkos almost found paydirt as his shot got past Marc-Andre Fleury put found the red-painted iron of the crossbar and stayed out of the net.
From that point on, it was Chicago who pushed play and had the Lightning chasing them around. If it wasn’t for a certain goaltender (and some iron work of the pipes behind him) the road team would have been down multiple goals.
ARE YOU KIDDING ME, VASY?? pic.twitter.com/GoNUN4tTUT— Tampa Bay Lightning (@TBLightning) March 7, 2022
They did end the period down one thanks to some turnovers and a quick one-timer from Dylan Strome.
Dylan Strome (Patrick Kane, Alex DeBrincat) 1-0 Chicago
The shot counter read eight a piece after twenty minutes but it was the Hawks that had the better chances (3-2 high-danger chances and 17-12 in shot attempts). They used their speed and a little careless play from the Lightning to keep driving the Bolts back on their heels.
Looking to switch things up a bit, Coach Cooper started the period with the School Bus Line followed by the Kid Line. He had also bumped Anthong Cirelli up to the Brayden Point line. The changes paid off as Cal Foote had a shot blocked and the loose puck fell to the center of the ice where Taylor Raddysh backhanded it past Fleury.
Taylor Raddysh (Cal Foote, Mikhail Sergachev) 1-1
Play shifted back to the Lightning end and the tie lasted just five minutes. The Bolts ceded the blue line to Patrick Kane and he made them pay as he snapped a shot into the top corner that Vasilevskiy never really had a shot at stopping. It was even harder to react to it since Erik Cernak screened him just a bit.
Patrick Kane (Brendan Hagel, Seth Jones) 2-1 Chicago
One does not simply leave Patrick Kane with that much space. pic.twitter.com/3EHxFiXiaA— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) March 7, 2022
After a period and a half of penalty-free hockey, the infractions piled up rapidly. Chicago had back-to-back power plays that failed to produce a goal thanks to Vasilevskiy. During the second power play Alex Debrincat had to defend a short-handed rush by Alex Killorn and Anthony Cirelli, which he did, but he also tripped up Cirelli.
The Lightning technically didn’t score on the power play, but Victor Hedman blasted one in just after it expired, so for all intents and purposes we’ll count it as a power play goal. Excellent puck movement and retrieval led to an open shot from the top of the circles for Hedman and he didn’t miss.
Victor Hedman (Steven Stamkos, Nikita Kucherov) 2-2
It’s hard enough to contain the Lightning forwards, when the defense jumps up, they are almost impossible to stop. Then again, if I was Chicago I wouldn’t exactly expect Cal Foote to be the one cruising down into a scoring area. The second-year blueliner made the right read and Cirelli put the puck right on his stick. All Calvin had to do was put it on net, and he did.
Cal Foote (Anthony Cirelli, Ryan McDonagh) 3-2 Tampa Bay
That was Foote’s first goal of the season and the first multi-point game of his career. He’s been really noticeable since returning from his recent string of healthy scratches. Overall, it was a much stronger period for the defense. They killed off two penalties and didn’t allow any high-danger chances at 5v5. Yes, Chicago got some good looks (especially Kane) but with Vasilevskiy locked in, it’s going to take hall-of-fame skill to beat him.
A 32-second spree of offense completely changed the nature of the game. First, it was Victor Hedman scoring his second of the night on a shot that Fleury should have stopped. Perhaps that was still in his head as Corey Perry’s shot beat him glove side following a turnover by the Hawks. Mikhail Sergachev completed the binge with another shot that seemed stoppable.
Victor Hedman (Mikhail Sergachev, Brayden Point) 4-2 Lightning
Corey Perry (Unassisted) 5-2 Tampa Bay
Mikhail Sergachev (Ross Colton) 6-2 Tampa Bay
NHL Video Highlight - Mikhail Sergachev scores against the Chicago Blackhawks to make it 6-2. pic.twitter.com/JL3zhgpvNM— Lightning Game Bot (@bolts_game_bot) March 7, 2022
The three goals in 32 seconds set a new franchise record. Still, there was a lot of time left in the period and the Hawks weren’t going away. Down by four they did swing some action back towards the Lightning with the Kane line driving play. DeBrincat tipped home a shot to cut the score to 6-3.
Alex DeBrincat (Dylan Stome) 6-3 Tampa Bay
NHL Video Highlight - Alex DeBrincat scores against the Tampa Bay Lightning to make it 6-3. pic.twitter.com/SEAvkYPkxC— Lightning Game Bot (@bolts_game_bot) March 7, 2022
In a game where nine goals are scored through two-and-a-half periods it’s weird to think the best player on the ice was a goaltender. Which goaltender? It wasn’t Fleury.
Andrei Vasilevskiy.— Tampa Bay Lightning (@TBLightning) March 7, 2022
That's it. That's the tweet. pic.twitter.com/ES0XCPvs92
A late power play for the Lighting failed to secure a hat trick for Victor Hedman, but it did finish off the game clock. After a rough start, Tampa Bay kicked off their six-game road trip with a rather convincing victory.