Tampa Bay defeats Chicago, 3-1
Everyone who recorded a point tonight had ties to the Lightning organization
We’ll keep this one short tonight. The Tampa Bay Lightning defeated the Chicago Blackhawks, 3-1, compliments of two goals from Brayden Point, who set a new career high with 43 goals on the season. Brandon Hagel scored an empty netter against his old team while Brian Elliott picked up his 10th win of the season by stopping 22 of 23 shots. Taylor Raddysh had the lone goal for the ‘Hawks as he tied the game in the third period with his 17 of the season (the assists came from old friend Tyler Johnson and former draft pick Cole Guttman). Peter Mrazek stopped 32 of 34 and kept his team in the game with several key saves in the third period.
Was it the cleanest game of the season for the Lightning? No, not really. There were still too many turnovers, and they came out a little flat in the first period. It didn’t help that they lost Steven Stamkos to a left-leg injury towards the end of the first. Anthony Cirelli also briefly left the game, but returned to finish it out.
While the Lightning had their issues controlling the puck throughout the game, one thing that was noticeable was their compete level. They may have made mistakes, but they fought hard to recover. Whether it was Nikita Kucherov fighting to get the puck back after a bad breakout pass or Victor Hedman dropping to cover the center of the ice after a turnover in the defensive zone, they didn’t let their mistakes snowball.
Should they have blown out Chicago based on their spots in the standings? Sure, but the ‘Hawks have been playing hard over recent weeks despite fielding a weakened roster after the trade deadline. Parity in this league still means any team can win on any given night and the Bolts can’t just throw their sticks on the ice and expect to win. The underlying stats were a little more favorable for the Bolts as they dominated the high-danger chances (16-8) and expected goals (3.33 to 2.13) at 5v5. They are doing a better job of getting back to the front of the net and generating chances, something that was virtually non-existent during their losing skid.
Elliott was solid in net as he gave Andrei Vasilevskiy a day off before the Bolts take on the Winnipeg Jets tomorrow. He didn’t have to be spectacular in net, but he made most of the saves when they needed to them in those moments when Chicago was pushing.
It probably won’t crack the top five in best wins this season, but it is two more points in the bank, two more points closer to the playoffs, and two more points between them and the Atlantic teams chasing them.
Brayden Point (Victor Hedman, Mikhail Sergachev) 1-0 Lightning
Taylor Raddysh (Cole Guttman, Tyler Johnson) 1-1
Brayden Point (Nikita Kucherov, Mikhail Sergachev) 2-1 Lightning
Brandon Hagel (Alex Killorn) Empty Net 3-1 Lightning