Considering the Hawks came into the game down Brian Campbell, they lost Dave Bolland early in the first on a blatant head shot, and they were trailing 3-1 after 21 minutes, escaping with a point in one of the tougher buildings to play should be cause for a minor celebration. The Hawks top line of Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, and Patrick Sharp outscored the Lightning’s top line of Vinny Lecavalier, Martin St. Louis, and Steven Stamkos 3-2. Unfortunately, the Lightning’s supporting cast outscored the Hawks 1-0.
For the second night in a row, the Hawks gave up a goal late in the first period. This time, all three players keyed in on Steven Stamkos and forgot there was anyone else in a black jersey. Enter Martin St. Louis who picked up the puck and picked out a corner.
The Lightning scored a little after the first minute of the second on a broken play to extend their lead to two. Down to essentially 15 skaters with Bolland out and the corpses of John Scott and Fernando Pisani rotting away, it looked like it was going to be a very long evening in St. Petersburg.
Fortunately, the Lightning defense didn’t have an answer for Toews, Kane, and Sharp. Halfway through the second, Kane drew three defenders to him and fed the puck towards the front of the net. Toews and Sharp had a mini 2-on-1 in the crease. Sharp banged home the loose puck to cut the lead to one.
In the third, Toews won an offensive zone draw to Brent Seabrook. Seabrook calmly held the puck, fed it to a wide open Niklas Hjalmarsson who fired a shot towards the net. Toews worked his way to the front by this point and re-directed the shot past Dwayne Roloson.
From there, both teams traded decent opportunities. In overtime, Roloson stopped a Bryan Bickell breakaway. The Hawks, meanwhile, killed off a minute of a power play that saw a few golden opportunities for Tampa.
Martin St. Louis was the only player to score in the shootout and that’s that.
–The past two nights, Pat and Eddie made a fairly large deal about opponents playing man-to-man against the Hawks in the defensive zone. As if this doesn’t play largely into the Hawks’ hands. Man-to-man is probably the most difficult defense to play in this new NHL. Teams have to have incredibly good skaters and decision makers to play it effectively. Florida and Tampa are neither of those. Needless to say, the Hawks, once again, skated circles around the opposition down low and there were people open everywhere once there was a defensive breakdown.
That’s the thing about man-to-man, one defensive breakdown and it becomes a fire drill in front of the net. So please rest of the NHL, please keep playing this against the Hawks.
–If Bryan Bickell played every 3 out of 4 games like he did his last two shifts, I don’t think anyone could find a complaint in his game. Bickell destroyed Mattias Ohlund and Martin St. Louis with huge checks at the end of regulation. Then in overtime, he just missed winning the game on a breakaway. If it weren’t for Steven Stamkos bearing down on him, Bickell would have very likely lifted the puck right over Roloson’s glove.
–Like most NHL rules, their shootout rule is largely left to interpretation. So when Martin St. Louis scored on his shootout attempt by coming wide, doing a spin-o-rama, and stopping the momentum of the puck before roofing it past Corey Crawford, I’m not sure what to think. The spin-o-rama move has been used so much now that it leaves entirely to the referee’s discrection. With the play moving so quickly, it’s nearly impossible to make the call at full speed. I still have no idea if it was a good goal or not. Maybe the league would be better off just allowing guys to do whatever the hell they want so long as they only take one shot.
But that’s probably too easy.
–That was Niklas Hjalmarsson’s best game of the season. Even though his penalty was the wrong call as the puck hit the glass before the net, I’m still waiting for a good explanation why he treated the puck like an IED in that situation.
–You would have to think Pavel Kubina will get some kind of retribution from the league for his hit on Dave Bolland. Kubina made no qualms about aiming for the back of Bolland’s skull with his elbow. The only unfortunate thing for the Hawks was Kubina not getting a shift in overtime. The man is an absolute stiff and would’ve very likely led to prime scoring chances for the Hawks.
–Late in the third, Troy Brouwer stripped Mattias Ohlund of the puck down low and outworked Kubina. Jonathan Toews was wide open streaking down the slot. Brouwer buried an easy shot into Roloson’s chest. Obviously Brouwer was at the end of the shift, but generally Toews screams his head off any time he’s remotely open. I would love to know why Brouwer didn’t spot him.
–If you thought Brian Campbell was terrifying to watch in the 4-on-4 overtime, Chris Campoli takes it to a whole other level. He’s all over the ice while taking all sorts of risks with the puck. Tonight, he stopped a puck with his glove with two guys bearing down on him, pinched in below the Lightning goal line, and allowed a 2-on-1. All in the same shift.
–After the Hawks were probably told no less than 98 times in the last 15 hours to always keep an eye on Steven Stamkos, it’s hard to find a ton of blame on Tampa’s second goal. Their defense was obviously keyed in on him because of who he was. So when he drew three guys to him to free up Martin St. Louis, it shouldn’t have been that surprising. That tends to happen when superstars are on the ice.
On his first goal, I’d love to hear how the Hawks could’ve played that any better. Brent Seabrook closed the gap on him as well as anyone could. Dave Bolland was draped all over him from behind. Stamkos was able to muscle past Bolland’s backcheck and somehow fire a shot past Seabrook’s stick. Incredibly gifted players make special plays from time to time.