By Brad Gardner
The Blackhawks spent a majority of the first period in the offensive zone. Viktor Stalberg accounted for four of the Blackhawks’ 15 shots in the opening frame. He also missed the net four times, including an excellent set-up by Andrew Brunette coming out from behind the net.
Tampa was not without their chances in the first – the Lightning kept pace in terms of shots for much of the first half of the period. Ray Emery was strong on his post against a couple stuff attempts from Ryan Malone and he came up with a big save against Steven Stamkos on a breakaway as well. The second half of the period was all-Hawks as Tampa Bay did not register a shot over the final eight minutes of the period.
The scoreless first gave way to a couple quick strikes to start the second period. Stamkos notched his seventh goal of the season just 15 seconds into the middle frame, cashing in on a rebound from Emery after a shot from Marc-Andre Bergeron.
Patrick Sharp tied it less than a minute later, scoring the Hawks’ first power play goal since October, 22nd against Colorado. Jonathan Toews saucered a backhand pass across the crease to Sharp, who buried the puck in the wide open net. Chicago controlled the puck in the offensive zone for the full half minute that they spent on the power play, helped in part by Brent Seabrook making a nice play to keep the puck in the zone at the blue line.
Rookie winger Brett Connolly put the Lightning back on top at the 4:55 mark of the second. Martin St. Louis sent a shot towards an open net, but it was actually stopped in the crease by the skate of Connolly. He kept his stick with it and poked the puck across the goal line. The play was reviewed because the net was nearly lifted off the moorings by Connolly, but the magnet remained connected and the net slid back into position as the puck went in.
Another barrage from the Blachkawks followed. Marian Hossa tied it up after a Patrick Kane sent a hard pass across the offensive zone. Hossa’s quick release beat Roloson five hole to draw the game even.
The fourth line struck next when Daniel Carcillo poked the puck away from Bergeron at the blue line and carried the puck on a wide open breakaway. He put his backhand attempt into the top corner, beating Roloson to the glove side.
Kane carried in on the left wing on the rush and sent a perfect feed to Patrick Sharp driving past Viktor Hedman towards the net. Sharp needed only to get his stick on the puck to put it in the open cage, giving the Blackhawks a two goal lead at the 7:21 mark of the second period.
Stamkos answered at 11:45 for his second tally of the night. Nick Leddy was trying to locate the puck in his skates when he was knocked down by Stamkos. Teddy Purcell swooped in and carried the puck behind the net. Stamkos beat Leddy to the front of the net and Purcell’s pass was right on the money for the Tampa star to slam it home.
Stamkos finished the hat trick with a power play goal with just over 30 seconds remaining in the second period. Lecavalier was first to a dump into the corner, passing to Ryan Malone who fed it back out to St. Louis at the point. St. Louis faked the shot and sent a crisp pass across the zone to Stamkos, manning his usual post at the left faceoff dot. He had plenty of net to shoot at and blasted a one-timer past Emery to tie the game up at four goals apiece.
The teams traded a handful of chances in the third, but there was little in the way of sustained pressure or prime scoring chances. They remained deadlocked through the third, forcing the Blackhawks into their third consecutive game with extra time.
The choppy play continued into overtime, until Vinny Lecavalier finished the game off of a saucer pass across the crease from Martin St. Louis with just under a minute left in overtime. Nick Leddy’s attempt to clear around the boards was picked up by Bergeron, who drew Sami Lepisto out of position towards the blue line. St. Louis received a pass from Bergeron and drove in 2-on-1 against Nick Leddy, who sprawled on the ice in an attempt to take away the passing lane. St. Louis passed it over Leddy’s stick and Lecavalier had an easy tap-in to seal the Lightning victory.
- Duncan Keith missed his second consecutive game with a hand injury. In his absence, the defensive pairings were: Seabrook-Hjalmarsson, O’Donnell-Leddy, Lepisto-Montador
- Ray Emery got his second start of the regular season after Corey Crawford worked overtime Thursday night against the Panthers. Tough to stop Stamkos on his second and third tallies considering he was able to get wide open. Emery probably wants the rebound back that led to Stamkos’ first goal and was overall not quite as sharp against the high-flying Lightning as he was in his first start.
- Emery faced off against another veteran netminder in 42-year-old Dwayne Roloson. He entered Friday’s tilt with a 3.70 goals against average and .888 save percentage and his performance against Chicago was consistent with those numbers. His offense was just able to finish it off and capture the two points.
- Steven Stamkos scored the fourth hat trick of his career. His first came in his rookie season on February, 17th 2009 against the Blackhawks, back-stopped by Cristobal Huet. Chicago actually came away with two points in that game, but was unable to duplicate that feat this time around.
- Tampa dominated the faceoff dot early in the game, but finished with just a 55% winning percentage for the game. Patrick Kane won only two of his 11 draws, forcing Patrick Sharp (won 3 of 7) to take more draws for that line than he has to-date. Toews led Chicago by winning 12 of his 18 faceoffs.
- The defensive minutes were more spread out in Friday’s game than they were against the Panthers. Seabrook (25:30) and Niklas Hjalmarsson (23:29) were still very busy in this one.
- Pavel Kubina attempted a clear off the boards late in the first period that deflected off the glass and caught Jonathan Toews in the face. He left the bench for the remainder of the period but returned for the start of the second.
- Three stars of the game….. 1. Steven Stamkos, 2. Martin St. Louis, 3. Patrick Sharp
- Overall, not a bad road trip considering the Hawks came away with three out of a possible four points. They failed to hold onto a lead in both games, though, which had been an area of strength leading into the Florida trip.
- The Blackhawks will return home for their next game against the Vancouver Canucks on Sunday for ‘one of those great 6pm starts at the United Center.
In addition to covering the Blackhawks for TheThirdManIn.com, Brad is also the Blackhawks’ correspondent at HockeysFuture.com.