The Tampa Bay Lightning has set an NHL and a franchise record in their 6-3 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks at the United Center.
Less than 24 hours after a disappointing 5-4 loss to the Minnesota Wild in overtime last night at the Xcel Energy Center in Minnesota, the Tampa Bay Lightning was back on the ice once again. This time, the Lightning made their way to the United Center where they would take on the Chicago Blackhawks.
The bright side to this particular back-to-back is the Bolts and Blackhawks were on fairly even ground. Both teams played last night and both teams had to make their way to the United Center for tonight’s contest. The Blackhawks defeated the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-1 in Columbus.
Much like their contest against the Wild last night, the Lightning wasted little time in getting down to business. At 3:21 in the first period, Lightning forward Nikita Kucherov would pick up his second goal of the season to get things started. Kucherov’s first-period goal was his sixth point in five games.
Regrettably, the Bolts wouldn’t keep a tight grip on their lead for very long. A noticeable defensive breakdown led to Blackhawks rookie Alexandre Fortin catching a breakaway and his first National Hockey League goal. Lightning netminder Louis Domingue definitely had no assistance in front of the net on this one.
The Lightning would find themselves on the business end of the first penalty kill of the game as forward Anthony Cirelli would make his way to the sin bin for two minutes for Holding against Blackhawks forward David Kampf. The good news here is the Lightning penalty kill would keep their stellar record intact.
The Lightning’s penalty kill would be put to the test once more before the end of the first period. This time, it would be Nikita Kucherov who would be headed off for two minutes for Hooking. Once again, the Lightning’s penalty kill held strong, but there was something significantly different this time around.
Lightning netminder Louis Domingue was forced to make an amazing save in front of the net. After making contact with the puck with his right blocker, he helicoptered his legs, kicking the puck up in the air, to keep it from making its way into the back of the net.
We would be one hundred percent lying to you if we didn’t say our jaws hit the floor on this one. Domingue was definitely on fire in the opening period of the game. The 26-year-old netminder would need to keep this kind of play moving forward if the Bolts wanted to retake the lead over the Blackhawks.
In the second period of play, Lightning forward Anthony Cirelli proved to everyone here in the Bolts Nation that persistence really does pay off. Cirelli continued to apply pressure to Blackhawks netminder Cam Ward and eventually, the puck crept through and regained the lead for the Bolts.
Ward was absolutely furious after the play. He seemed to be under the impression the play should’ve been whistled dead because he had the puck covered. However, after taking a closer look at the overhead cam, it was abundantly clear the puck was not covered and this was indeed a good goal.
Unfortunately for the Blackhawks, Ward couldn’t seem to keep his frustrations under wraps. Less than 30 seconds after the Cirelli goal, Ward would be handed a two-minute penalty for Slashing against J.T. Miller, thus giving the Bolts another chance with the man advantage. Luckily for Ward, the Bolts couldn’t make it happen on the Power Play.
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The goal from Anthony Cirelli seemed to have lit a fire in the hearts of the Tampa Bay Lightning. Through the halfway point in the second period, the Bolts outshot the Hawks 19-2 for a two-period total of 31-19. Yes…the Bolts held the Hawks to a mere two shots on goal through the first 10 minutes of the second period.
Just past the halfway point in the period, the Bolts would find themselves with another chance with the man advantage as Marcus Kruger would make his way to the box for two minutes for Tripping against Anthony Cirelli. This time, the Lightning would make the Blackhawks pay for their indiscretions.
Right before the penalty was set to come to an end, Yanni Gourde picked up his fourth goal of the season to extend the Lightning’s lead over the Blackhawks to two goals. The assists on the Gourde goal would go to Ondrej Palat and Brayden Point.
Speaking of Brayden Point, here is someone who wasn’t finished making an impact on the ice tonight. Less than two minutes after the goal from Gourde, Point would pick up his fifth goal of the season to put a little more distance between these two teams. The score would now be 4-1 in favor of the Bolts.
There is nothing anyone can say to argue against the mere fact the second period of play was all about the Tampa Bay Lightning. In addition to scoring not one, not two, but three unanswered goals in the second frame, the Bolts have officially set an NHL record.
The Lightning registered 33 shots on goal in the second period. No, you did not misread this particular statistic. The Bolts outshot the Blackhawks 33-6 in the second period for a two-period total of 45-23. The Lightning’s 33 shots on goal in the second are the most in the NHL since the 1997-98 season when shots on goal by period became a documented statistic.
Personally, we think the Tampa Bay Lightning said it the best during the second intermission.
We know this is setting the bar a little high, but we want to see the second-period version of the Tampa Bay Lightning play every single game for the remainder of the season. If the Lightning can continue to fire on all cylinders and continue to put relentless pressure on the opposing goaltender, they will be unstoppable.
The final frame between the Tampa Bay Lightning and Chicago Blackhawks seemed to absolutely fly by. Before anyone knew what happened the first half of the third period was in the books. At this point in the game, the Lightning had surpassed 50 shots on goal.
There are no words to adequately describe the pure offensive pressure the Bolts have put on the Blackhawks tonight. It’s hard to believe this is a team who is on the second half of a back-to-back series.
In the final five minutes of the game, it seemed as if the Blackhawks finally started to gain some traction. Of course, this traction came with quite a bit of help from the officials, but we digress. The Lightning would have a lot of work in front of them if they wanted to preserve their lead over the Blackhawks.
At 15:17 in the third period, the Chicago Blackhawks caught a lucky break when the puck deflected off an official and into the zone, thus creating the opportunity for Blackhawks forward David Kampf to pick up his first goal of the season to reduce the Lightning’s lead to three.
As one could easily imagine, Louis Domingue was furious at the situation. Unable to control his anger, Domingue absolutely demolished his stick against the goal post. The referees wasted no time in awarding the Blackhawks a Power Play opportunity, citing Domingue for Unsportsmanlike Conduct.
The one question we have here is why this was a penalty for Domingue when Ward did the exact same thing in the early moments of the game. The singular difference in these two situations is Domingue’s stick actually broke. Inconsistency at its finest, but it is what it is, the Lightning would head to the Penalty Kill.
Regrettably, the Lightning’s perfect penalty kill officially came to an end as Nick Schmaltz picked up his first goal of the season to bring the Blackhawks within two goals of the Bolts. The play did come into question as it was unclear whether the puck actually crossed the line, but after review, the officials called it a good goal.
All good things must come to an end at some point. We just wish this tremendous performance by the Lightning’s penalty kill had come to an end under much less questionable circumstances.
The Blackhawks seemed to be making some ground in the latter part of the third period, but the Lightning would essentially hammer the last nail into the coffin of the Blackhawks when Ryan Callahan hit the empty net to give the Bolts a 6-3 lead, which is where the game would come to a close.
When the final buzzer sounded, the Lightning would set a new NHL record and a new franchise record in tonight’s encounter against the Blackhawks. As we mentioned previously, the Lightning’s 33 shots on goal in the second period was the most in the NHL since this particular stat began being tracked in the 97-98 season.
In addition, the Lightning’s total of 55 shots on goal is a new franchise record for shots on goal in a single game. All in all, tonight’s game was a tremendous effort by the Tampa Bay Lightning and a definitely well-deserved victory.
The Tampa Bay Lightning has definitely earned the two-day break they have in front of them. The Bolts will have the next two days to rest and recharge before they have to get down to business once again. On Wednesday night, the Bolts will make their way into the Pepsi Center where they will take on the Colorado Avalanche.
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The Bolts have a lot of momentum on their side as they make their way out of the Windy City. They definitely set the bar high tonight and there will be many here in the Bolts Nation looking for the Lightning to keep this kind of pressure coming. It will most certainly be interesting to see how the Bolts respond against the Avalanche after their two-day break.