It happened again Tuesday at United Center in a game both sides viewed as an early benchmark to their season. The Blackhawks snapped the Lightning's six-game winning streak with a 3-2 shootout win in the fourth straight game between the two that needed more than 60 minutes to decide.
Last season, the Lightning beat the Blackhawks 3-2 in a shootout Oct. 5 at United Center before edging Chicago 6-5 in overtime on home ice. Chicago (9-6-1) hadn't beaten Tampa Bay (11-3-2) in five straight games, with the Blackhawks' last win Dec. 13, 2009 at United Center.
"That game reminded me exactly of both games we had against them last year," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "We do a lot of good things in the game and we're either behind, or it's close and it's a tight game. You know, pucks are going at the net, anything can happen and the game's on the line, basically, from start to finish. We had a better ending this year, which was nice to see."
That's because the shootout went differently.
Blackhawks right wing Patrick Kane scored the lone goal, roofing a wicked backhand past Ben Bishop to complete the second round, and Chicago goaltender Corey Crawford (25 saves) stopped all three of Tampa Bay's attempts.
Otherwise, Quenneville's comparison to last season was pretty accurate. This game mirrored the first one last season in several ways. The Blackhawks again outshot the Lightning (39-27), again attempted more total shots (69-40) and again forced Bishop to make 37 saves to keep the Lightning in the game.
Chicago also put a damper on Tampa Bay's high-flying offense, which came into the game averaging 3.8 goals and 30.1 shots per game.
A year ago, the Blackhawks held the Lighting to zero shots in the first period and 16 for the game. This time, Tampa Bay had one shot through the first 13:34 but held a 1-0 lead because of it. Forward Cedric Paquette scored the game's first goal shorthanded at 4:35 of the first to give the Lightning an unlikely 1-0 lead.
"We got the first goal, but that first period was pretty bad," Tampa Bay defenseman Matt Carle said. "They really took it to us. I think, for whatever reason, we weren't really playing our game and they were going. We didn't really have an answer for them in the first … [Bishop] stood on his head."
Bishop made 19 saves to deny the Blackhawks from converting multiple prime scoring chances into goals. Chicago played according to plan early, with the exception of three failed power plays and Paquette's goal. It was the fourth allowed by the Blackhawks with a man-advantage in 16 games; they allowed five shorthanded goals last season.
"It's unacceptable to give up shorthanded goals, especially when you have momentum in the game to give up one like that," said Kane, whose turnover in the offensive zone led to Paquette's goal. "There's a couple things that could've [gone] different on that play, but [it's] unacceptable."
Brad Richards and Marcus Kruger scored in regulation for the Blackhawks, who've won two straight games for the third time. Kucherov scored the other goal for the Lightning to tie it 2-2 at 9:53 of the third.
Kruger put the Blackhawks up 2-1 at 1:18 of the third with a tip-in goal off Niklas Hjalmarsson's point shot, but two Chicago penalties put Tampa Bay on back-to-back power plays soon afterward.
That shifted momentum and Kucherov scored 2:42 after the second Blackhawks penalty expired. A turnover in the Chicago zone by defenseman Brent Seabrook sparked the play, which ended with Kucherov burying a feed from Stamkos for his sixth goal.
"A couple of positives did come out of the game," Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. "Our penalty kill was outstanding (6-for-6). That kept us in the game. Our goaltender ... I don't know what the stars were, but he probably could've been first, second and third star of the game. So there were some encouraging things, but you can't come out and play the way we did in the first period."
Each team had a player leave with an injury in the third. Lightning center Tyler Johnson left at 5:11 and didn't return after a cross-check by Seabrook. Blackhawks defenseman Johnny Oduya didn't play again after Kucherov scored, the result of blocking a shot by defenseman Jason Garrison. No updates were provided by either coach afterward.