By Dory LeBlanc
Entering Thursday night's contest with the Stanley Cup Champions, both Chicago and Tampa Bay had 26 Goals For and 21 Goals Against so far this campaign. The two teams were also deadlocked through three periods, plus overtime when they met at the United Center on October 5th, with the Lightning leaving the Windy City with the shootout victory (3-2).
Thursday at the Tampa Bay Times Forum, had a deja vu feel to it as the two clubs continued to be well-matched on the scoreboard, but Chicago dominated the Lightning in shots on goal 43-25,. However, when all was said and done, Tampa Bay got the best of the Blackhawks for the second time this season, winning in OT 6-5.
Barely five minutes in, Michal Rozsival sat out on a two-minute minor for a hooking call, giving the Lightning a man-advantage. Just as time was ticking down, Matt Carle took a shot from beyond the left faceoff circle, that sailed past Nikolai Khabibulan as Richard Panik ran a screen at the top of the crease, partly blocking the former Lightning goalie's view.
The goal ended a power play scoring drought (1-for14) and was the second goal for a Tampa Bay defenseman this campaign (Salo).
:33 into the second period, Tampa Bay got called for too many men on the ice, facing their second penalty kill of the game. Less than a minute later, the Lightning gave Chicago their first two-goal deficit of the season, as Nate Thompson scored a shorthanded goal to put the Bolts ahead 2-0.
Bryan Bickell got one back for the Blackhawks after Brent Seabrook threw the puck on the net and Bickell was able to send it past Ben Bishop at 9:00.
The Blackhawks were outshooting the Lightning 20-6 halfway through the game, and evened it up on their 21st shot, a redirect by Marian Hossa from a Patrick Sharp one-timer from the circle, which was under review for high-sticking. The goal stood, and the momentum had obviously shifted to the Champs.
With 2:39 left in the middle stanza, Steven Stamkos darted up the ice and shot a wrister past Khabibulin to regain the lead for Tampa Bay.
Unfortunately, that lead was short-lived as Patrick Kane's speed was no match for Andrej Sustr and Eric Brewer and he easily maneuvered past the Lightning defensemen and beat Bishop high for the equalizer.
Through 40 minutes, Chicago led Tampa Bay in shots 27-11, but the Lightning had won the special teams battle with one shorthanded goal, one power play goal, and killed all three Chicago penalties until just about three minutes into the final period, when Kane got a chance to score his second goal of the night, this time with the Hawks having the man-advantage, but Andrew Shaw tipped it past Bishop instead to give the Blackhawks a 4-3 lead, their first of the night.
Victor Hedman became the second defensemen to score a goal in the contest to even it up at four goals a piece, and Stamkos scored his second of the night nine minutes later while on a power play with just over two minutes left in regulation.
With a rejuvenated crowd, and looking like they were on their way to beating the defending Stanley Cup Champions twice in the month of October, the Lightning shot themselves in the foot when Carle sent the puck back to Radko Gudas, but it deflected and got past Bishop.
After 60 minutes of regulation hockey, both teams were tied at 5-5. 1:16 into overtime, Martin St. Louis scored the game winner after picking up the rebound from a Gudas shot and giving Tampa Bay the 6-5 victory.
Attendance: 18, 820
Shots On Goal:
CHI - 43
TB - 25
CHI - 1/6
TB - 2/4
Three Stars of the Game:
1. Martin St. Louis
2. Steven Stamkos
3. Patrick Kane (CHI)
Next up for the Bolts: Tampa Bay will host the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday, October 26th at 7:00pm. Tune in to 970 WFLA to hear Hall of Famer Phil Esposito and Dave Mishkin's call.