The Tampa Bay Lightning were forced to grind through a game that should’ve been much easier for them, but pulled out a trio of goals in the third period to win 4-1 over Chicago on Tuesday night. Pat Maroon, Alex Killorn, Brandon Hagel, and Nick Paul all scored for the Lightning, with Hagel and Hedman each getting two points on the night.
Hedman’s two assists moved him past Vincent Lecavalier for third on the franchise’s all-time assists leaderboard. At 493, he’s 23 behind Steven Stamkos, who also got an assist in the game.
Nikita Kucherov didn’t get a point in this game, but he definitely deserved one as he put Alex Stalock on his butt more times than you could count with his lateral movement and passes to Hagel and Point. The book was read pretty early on Stalock, stating the goalie is very wild when he’s moving. The Lightning were on Stalock for most of the game, but couldn’t break through until the third when Chicago’s defense fell apart after a whole game in their own zone.
Brian Elliott made 25 saves in his eighth win of the season, giving up a goal early but shutting the door the rest of the way. Mikhail Sergachev led the Lightning with eight shots (four on net), with Killorn right behind with seven and the most ixG on the team. The Lightning scored four goals on 4.63 expected, while Chicago scored one on 2.15 expected. Both teams scored one power play goal, with Chicago getting five chances with the man advantage, while the Lightning got four.
I’m genuinely surprised it took so long for the Lightning to win this game, and that shots were pretty much tied after the first period. 5v5 shots by the end of the game were 48-36, with the Lightning getting 27 scoring chances to Chicago’s 10.
Chicago opened the scoring with Seth Jones in front of the net on the power play. This goal was Chicago’s first power-play goal from a defenseman in 124 games. Taylor Raddysh got the primary assist with his shot from the wing deflected in front of the net by Jones. The puck had come out of the zone a couple seconds before, and as Chicago touched back onside, Jones powered through the zone with speed and created a hole for himself in front of the net.
While on another penalty kill (Cole in the box for a second time), Hedman cut off a pass along the boards and was away on a 2-on-1 with Hagel, but he failed to get the puck across as Jones slid at the defenseman and collected the puck within him. This was small bright spot as the Lightning had to kill off three penalties to start the game.
Maroon! Big Rig tied the game with a tip in front of the net from Hedman’s shot that got around Stalock. Stalock had come out a far ways to cut down the angle, but Maroon poked his stick in front just enough to get the puck around the pad and into the back of the net. A very deft move from the big winger. Hedman’s assist on Maroon’s goal gave him 492 on his career, which puts him ahead of Vincent Lecavalier for third on the franchise’s all-time assist leaderboard.
Victor Hedman's first-period assist gives him 492 for his career, passing Vinny Lecavalier for third on the #GoBolts all-time list.— Eduardo A. Encina (@EddieInTheYard) January 4, 2023
This was a disappointing period for the Lightning, who were caught taking three penalties on sloppy plays. All the time in the box allowed Chicago to get ahead and slowed the Bolts progress at building a 5v5 game.
While I do think the Lightning were aiming for more pre-shot movement due to Stalock’s wildness in net, they didn’t get enough chances to show it in the numbers. By the end of the first, shots were 11-12 for Chicago, a proportion the Lightning shouldn’t have let them get anywhere near in this game. But anyway, we move on.
Hagel couldn’t have been left more open with a more open net thanks to Kucherov’s pass from the middle, but he hit the post and the game stayed tied. He got a second chance seconds later but Stalock stopped him. Another post from Kucherov as the first line was all over the offensive zone. The Lightning hit three posts in the first few minutes of the second period, with Sergachev making a ding before Hagel and Kucherov’s dates with iron.
After some offsetting minors, the Lightning got a couple power plays. They didn’t get the chances they wanted as they tried to move the puck around the zone. Stamkos had a chance, but he didn’t get enough on it to get past the glove of Stalock.
A mad scramble in front of the Bolts net in the dying seconds of the period. The Lightning cleared the puck away just as the buzzer blew. Elliott made the first save and had to stretch his left leg against the post to keep the puck from trickling through.
A better period for the Lightning, who dominated the first half at 5v5. When the special teams dust settled, they were up in shots 25-10 at 5v5. Shots on goal were 11-3 (13-6 in all situations). As good of a period as the Lightning had, it wasn’t enough to break the deadlock. They were getting really close with their passing plays in front of the net. They just needed something to connect. Keeping their foot down were the instructions coming during second intermission.
Killorn!!!! Finally the breakthrough they wanted as Killorn powered his way to the front of the net and banged home his own rebound to give the Lightning the lead in the third period. Hagel got the assist on the 5v5 goal. Connor Murphy was sliding under Killorn to prevent a cross-crease pass, knocking Killorn down as he twisted his body at the rebound.
Hagel finally got the goal he deserved with this power play goal in the third period from Point and Stamkos. Hagel and Kucherov were playing catch down low as Stamkos and Point tried to get open for a cross-crease pass. Eventually one came, but there was a scramble for the puck. Somehow Point got the puck back across to Hagel, who was wide open at the side of the net.
Offsetting penalties for Stalock and Killorn for running into each other behind the net. Killorn got called for cross-checking the goalie and knocking him over. Stalock got called for interference. I’m still not really sure why but I’ll take it without questioning. The two teams played some 4v4 for two minutes with each team getting one shot.
Took them a while, but the Lightning eventually got to the scoreline they should be getting against Chicago. This final goal from Nick Paul shorthanded with an empty net in the last minute of the game. Hedman made the play to disrupt Jones enough in the slot that his shot missed, and then send the puck out to the neutral zone for Paul to retrieve. Paul was running out of room, but he flipped the puck bardown into the empty net to seal the game. Pretty impressive.