The Tampa Bay Lightning looked to start their four game home stand off on the right foot Monday night. With just eight games left to play they needed every possible point to slide into the second wild card spot. Standing in their way were the always formidable Chicago Blackhawks coming off an embarrassing 7-0 loss to the Florida Panthers.
Chicago came in to erase the memory of their shutout in Sunrise. They got off to a hot start when Artemi Panarin was left alone in the right circle. Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped the initial shot but the puck dribbled behind him across the goal line at 1:23. A fortuitous bounce went Tampa’s way when Chicago was called for an early delay of game penalty. The power play unit didn’t waste time as Ondrej Palat tipped a Victor Hedman shot past Scott Darling at 9:29.
The Blackhawks bounced back 48 seconds later when a blocked shot ended up on Patrick Kane‘s stick. Tampa continued to struggle in the first 15 minutes of the game and their opponents capitalized. Tomas Jurco pounced on a rebound and beat Vasilevskiy at 13:41. Jon Cooper pulled the young netminder and sent Peter Budaj in in relief. The Bolts came up empty on a late first period power play and the first 20 minutes ended with Chicago leading 3-1.
Vasilevskiy returned to the game to start the second period. The Blackhawks continued their scoring prowess at 8:47 when he picked up his own rebound to make it 4-1. Jonathan Drouin would redirect the puck to make it 4-2 at 11:45. A short time later Greg McKegg picked up the puck near the blue line and circled around Chicago’s with a wrap around try.. His rebound was picked up by Anton Stralman who put it home at 12:47. The Blackhawks were called for their second delay of game penalty and the stage was set for Jonathan Drouin’s heroics to tie the game at four a piece.
Despite the barn burner atmosphere of the second period, the third got off to a relatively quiet start. Both goalies came up huge but Vasilevskiy had an incredible stop on Patrick Kane:
Neither team could gain an edge and regulation ended tied 4-4. Three-on-three overtime provided a thrilling conclusion to this incredible contest. There was action on both ends of the ice. Victor Hedman poke checked the puck away from Panarin to spring Yanni Gourde who scored a highlight reel worthy goal to win the game and secure a much needed second point. Tampa now sits just one point behind the Boston Bruins for the East’s second wild card spot.
Tampa Bay will host the Detroit Red Wings Thursday at 7:30 PM.