By Leo Haggerty


Another outstanding four-game stretch, and all on the road, for the Bolts.  Seven points out of a possible eight, with six of those markers being collected in come from behind victories, have kept the Lightning at the top of the Central Division.

I asked Tampa Bay Head Coach Jon Cooper if there is, with every game against a divisional opponent where it’s a possible four point swing, added motivation to win?  He replied, “I don’t know if we really think about it that way at this time of the year.  I think that you’ll be thinking that way a month from now when it’s really going to come into effect.  So, yes, as a a coaching staff do we look at it that way? Yes because that’s out job but I’m not so sure that the players are looking at it that way.  It’s a playoffs series.  You want to get more points than you’re playing games.  We have three games coming up but let’s just win tonight.  We’ll move on and worry about tomorrow then.  The four point aspect to it, I don’t really think that we think about it now but, like I said, you will a month from now.

After possible playing their worst 40 minutes of the season and spotting Chicago a 2-0 advantage going to the final period, Tampa Bay stormed back to post a 3-2 overtime victory.  That advanced the Bolts to 16-4-1 while the Blackhawks fell to 12-7-5 on the campaign.

After a scoreless opening period, The Windy City Guys scored first at 7:24 of the middle period.  With the Lightning on the power play, G Andrei Vasilevskiy (35 saves on 37 shots) rejected an attempt but the puck went straight up in the air just in front of the goal crease.  Before #88 could fully regain his sight line, F Ryan Carpenter (4) found the back of the net to register a shorthanded goal that gave the Blackhawks a 1-0 lead.

That goal was the first scored against “The Big Cat” in the last 228:08.  That eclipses Bolts G John Grahame’s franchise record of 200:45.

I talked with Coach Cooper after the game because it seemed to me that, when the puck went up and Vasilevskiy lost sight of it, it should be considered a fluke goal.  The Bolts HC responded, “Anytime a goalie loses sight of the pick, it takes a little bit to get that back.  Now their bearings of where they are suppose to be in the net are off.  So, yes, that can have an effect on them.  No question because they don’t have a chance to reset.”

Chicago made it 2-0 at 14:04 of the second period.  F Alex DeBrincat (12) lit the lamp at 14:04 and things were looking bleak for Tampa Bay as both teams went to the dressing room after 40 minutes of play.

The Bolts cut the lead in half quickly.  At the 1:04 mark of the third period, the Lightning returned the favor with a shorthanded goal of their own.  F Anthony Cirelli (6) slid the puck past Chicago G Kevin Lankinen (31 saves on 34 shots) to make it a 2-1 hockey game.

Tampa Bay came all the way back to knot the score just 1:51 later.  F Steven Stamkos (11) put the biscuit in the basket and the score would remain 2-2 at the end of 60 minutes of play.

It seemed like the overtime period would be scoreless and the outcome would have to be decided in a shootout until the final second.  D Victor Hedman sent a shot on net in the waning seconds of OT that F Alex Killorn (4) redirected into the net with less than a second remaining to give the Bolts a come from behind victory and two precious points.

Chicago came from behind to score a 4-3 victory over Tampa Bay in a Shootout.  The win propelled the Blackhawks to 13-7-5 while the loss dropped the Lightning to 16-4-2 in 2021.

The Bolts opened the scoring at 2:51 of the first period.  Cirelli (7) maneuvered the puck past Chicago G Malcolm Subban (39 saves on 42 shots) to give Tampa Bay an early 1-0 advantage.

The Lightning extended the lead at 10:27 of the opening period.  Killorn (5) scored a power play marker to extend the Tampa Bay lead to 2-zip.

Chicago cut the lead in half just 2:30 later with a power play goal of their own.  DeBrincat (13) did the honors and that made the score 2-1 in favor of the Bolts.

The Blackhawks pulled even at 7:18 of the middle period.  Again, it was DeBrincat (14) with his third goal of the series with this one beating Lightning G Curtis McElhinney (24 saves on 27 shots) to even the score at 2 all.

Tampa Bay retook the lead at 3:20 of the third period.  D Ryan McDonagh (2) lit the lamp to put the Bolts back in front by a count of 3-2.

Chicago tied the score at 6:00 of the final period.  F Dominik Kubalik (9) put the biscuit in the basket to make the score 3-3 with no other scoring done before the end of regulation.

Both goalies were up to the task in overtime so the contest moved to the shootout phase.  After both teams were unsuccessful on their first two attempts, Blackhawks F Philip Kurashev scored and Subban stopped Stamkos to seal the victory for the Windy City Gang but the Bolts did manage a point for an overtime loss.

The Lightning stormed back from an early three goal deficit with six unanswered markers to take the rubber match of the three-game set 6-3 over the homestanding Blackhawks.  The victory moved Tampa Bay to 17-4-2 and the defeat left Chicago at 13-8-5.

The Windy City Gang scored twice in the opening period with the first at 10:51.  Kurashev (6) found the back of net and that was followed by a power play goal by F Mattias Janmark (8) at 15:34 to put Chicago up 2-zip.

The Blackhawks extended their margin to 3-nil at 3:11 of the middle period.  F Pius Suter (4) managed to get the puck behind Vasilevskiy (22s saves on 25 shots) but that’s the last time Chicago would dent the scoreboard.

The Lightning then exploded for four second period goals of their own with the first coming just 40 seconds after the Blackhawks score.  F Ondrej Palat (10) posted a power play score that was followed just 23 ticks later when F Yanni Gourde (7) put the biscuit in the basket.

Hedman (5) brought the Bolts all the way back at 7:51 beating Blackhawks G Lankinen (33 saves on 39 shots) knotting the score at 3 apiece with a power play marker.  Gourde (8) then gave the Lightning their first lead at 16:55 with the man advantage as well.

Tampa Bay deposited a couple of insurance goals in the final period.  The first by Killorn (6) at 14:25 and F Pat Maroon (3) posted the Bolts fourth power play goal of the evening at 17:25.

For the third time in this quartet of contests, the Lightning had to go to overtime.  This time it was in The Motor City where the Bolts posted a 4-3 overtime triumph.  That moved Tampa Bay to 18-4-2 while the setback left Detroit at 7-16-4.

The Red Wings struck first at 3:04 of the opening 20 minutes.  F Adam Erne (3) gave the home team a 1-0 lead when he managed to put the puck past Vasilevskiy (20 saves on 23 shots) with Detroit on the power play.

Tampa Bay tied the score at 12:29 with a power play marker of their own.  F Brayden Pointe (8) evened the count at 1 each when he deposited the rubber disk behind Red Wings G Thomas Greiss (25 saves on 29 shots).

The Bolts took the lead just 35 seconds later.  F Tyler Johnson (5) found the back of the net to give Tampa Bay a 2-1 advantage.

Detroit came out in the middle period and scored twice to take the lead.  D Patrik Nemeth (2) tied the score at 6:28 and F Dylan Larkin (5) gave the Red Wings a 3-2 lead at the 9:04 mark.

The Lightning drew even at 9:40 of the final period when D Eric Cernak (1) lit the lamp for the first time this season.  Both goalies shut the door from there and the contest moved to bonus hockey.

Tampa Bay secured the two points at 2:17 of the extra period.  F Blake Coleman (5) put an end to the tilt when he scored to give the Bolts a very hard fought 3-2 triumph.

After another game in Detroit, the Lightning return home for a two game set with Nashville then it’s back on the road to take on Dallas.  Look for our next recap, Covid permitting, around the middle of March.