By Michael Calvert
The Bulin wall seemed to be missing at least a few bricks in his homecoming, of sorts, to Tampa on Thursday night.
Nikolai Khabibulin was the #1 goalie for the Lightning in 2003-04 when they won their first and only Stanley Cup. This prompted the Hawks to sign him to a pretty large deal coming out of the 2004-05 lockout, one he arguably did not live up to. For this season the Hawks have brought him back on the cheap.
1st period: This game started out slowly enough. Matt Carle opened the scoring with a power play goal 6:28 into the game. Michal Rozsival was in the box for hooking Valtteri Filppula.
There wasn’t much more of interest in the first period. Stamkos took his first of two penalties at 12:53 with a cheap shot on Johnny Oduya that the ref decided was more aptly called interference. The Hawks do nothing of consequence on the Stamkos penalty and go into the first intermission down 1-0 after outshooting the Lightning 12-4.
2nd period: The action really picked up in the second period. The Lightning were penalized for trying to play with 6 skaters, and suddenly found themselves with 4. This tactic worked out very nicely as they were able to score shorthanded a minute into their penalty kill. The Hawks darn near gave up another short-handed goal on Stamkos’ second interference call of the game on a disastrous power play. At this point in the game the Hawks are outshooting the Lightning 16-6 and losing 2-0 with one goal coming on a shorty. Very frustrating.
Exactly 9:00 into the 2nd Bryan Bickell keeps his own personal goal streak alive at 3 games and cuts the Lightning lead in half. Only 90 seconds later, Marian Hossa tips in a Patrick Sharp shot and after review decided the obvious it’s a 2-2 game. At this point, it looked to me as though the Hawks would roll through this game and take a one sided win; they didn’t.
Steven Stamkos scores his 6th of the season on a slap shot 17:21 in. Apparently this guy is something of a goal scorer. Patrick Kane, on a play that looked somewhat similar to Stamkos’ goal 90 seconds earlier, ties the game at 3.
3rd period: The same back and forth continued into the third. Andrew Shaw scores quickly after a Filppula penalty on a tip in off a Kane shot. Scoring abruptly halted and it took another 9:30 for a goal to be scored. At the 90-second pace this game was on, it seemed an eternity. Less than 1% of the Lightning offense Victor Hedman puts a wrister past Khabi, assisted by 95% of the Lightning offense in Stamkos and St Louis.
Again after a long scoring drought of 6 minutes, the Hawks get Stamkos-ed again when the sniper puts in a slapper on another power play for the Lightning. So much for the revamped penalty kill.
The game then found it’s earlier form when Jonathan Toews ties it up 40 seconds later sending the game into overtime.
It didn’t last long as St Louis scores 1:16 into the OT period and steals the game and the first star from Stamkos.
Hawks didn’t shake lines up much as they went with Saad and Hossa flanking Toews again. With Michael Handzus back centering the Patricks on line 2, Kruger was sent down to line three to play between Shaw and Bickell, not much of a demotion really. Ben Smith, Brandon Pirri and Brandon Bollig rounded up the Hawks offensive lines.
On D the Hawks went with the usual suspects: Seabrook and Keith followed by Oduya and Hjalmarsson. It’s worth noting that the 3rd line of Leddy and Rozsival barely scraped past 10 mins. That really shouldn’t be. Minutes should be spread more evenly, especially if you’re going to give up 6 goals. Playing the top two lines almost a combined 50 minutes is pretty harsh.
Stamkos dominated this game.
Khabi’s tires have been kicked, time to give him back.