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PREVIEW: Blackhawks vs. Lightning - March 4, 2021

Chicago opens three-game set vs. Tampa Bay on Thursday night at the United Center

by Carter Baum @CarterBaum / Blackhawks.com

TIME: 7 p.m. CT
TV: NBCSCH   RADIO: WGN 720-AM / TUDN 1200-AM  |  STREAM: NHL.TV & MyTeamsApp

The Blackhawks open up a three-game set against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday night, the first of a back-to-back with another meeting on Sunday afternoon. All three contests take place at the United Center. 


TEAM RECORDS

CHI: 12-7-4, 28 PTS
TB: 15-4-1, 31 PTS


LAST TIME OUT

Chicago took a 7-2 victory over the Detroit Red Wings on Sunday night, with goals from Ryan Carpenter (2), Alex DeBrincat, Patrick Kane, Dominik Kubalik, Pius Suter and Nikita Zadorov. Kane's tally was the 400th of his career and completed his fifth game this season with three or more points in a game. Kevin Lankinen stopped a career-high 44 shots in the win. It completed a 9-3-1 month of February for the Blackhawks. 

Tampa Bay picked up their fifth straight win on Tuesday night, 2-0 in Dallas. For goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy, it was a third straight shutout -- posting 10 starught periods and 200:26 of game time without allowing a goal. The Lightning have outscored their opponents 13-1 over their last four games. Steven Stamkos (10G, 10A) and Victor Hedman (4G, 16A) lead Tampa in scoring this season with 20 points apiece. Stamkos led the Lightning with five points (2G, 3A) in the first two meetings of the season with Chicago. 

Video: Colliton on facing Lightning


PROVING GROUND

The Blackhawks face the Lightning on Thursday night for the first time since the opening two contests of the season on a disappointing opeing four-game swing through Florida.

Following 5-1 and 5-2 defeats to Tampa and 5-2 and 5-4 (OT) losses to Florida, Chicago has posted a 12-4-3 record -- the third-best in the NHL based on points percentage (.711) in that span (beginning Jan. 22). The Lightning own the second-best record on points percentage (.735) with a 12-4-1 record. 

Chicago has allowed five or more goals in a game just four times since the opening quartet, accounting for three of their four regulation losses since. The only time the Blackhawks have won while allowing five or more goals was a 6-5 shootout win over Columbus on Feb. 23 in Ohio. 


THE ROAD AHEAD

Chicago opens an 11-game stretch on Thursday that features nine contests against the teams from Florida, currently first and second in the Central Division. The Lightning will play three games at the United Center in four days before Chicago embarks on an six-game trip with two games against the Panthers and two more against the Lightning over the final four games of the road swing. When they return home, Chicago will face the Panthers another two times at the United Center. 

The trip starts with a two-game set in Dallas next Tuesday and Thursday. 

Video: Janmark on Tampa's challenges, line chemistry


STAR OF THE MONTH

Kane was named the Star of the Month of the Central Division for February after leading the NHL with 17 assists and 24 points in 13 games during the month. Kane, who paced all forwards in average time on ice during the month (22:51), found the scoresheet in 10 of his 13 appearances.

With his second four-point game (1G, 3A) of the season on Feb. 23, he eclipsed the 30-point mark (9G, 21A) within 20 or fewer team games for the second time in his career (2015-16). He is the first player in franchise history to accomplish that feat since Denis Savard did it four times between 1981-82 and 1988-89.

Kane shares second in the league with 34 points and third with 23 helpers during the 2020-21 campaign.


CAT ATTACK

DeBrincat extended his point streak (3G, 6A) to a season-high six games with a goal and three helpers on Sunday against Detroit. With those three assists, DeBrincat reached 100 for his career. He shared second with nine markers and was third with 19 points among all NHL skaters in February.

His 11 markers share the team lead (Kane) and share sixth in the NHL. He is two goals away from tallying the 100th of his NHL career and could become the 14th player in Blackhawks history to debut with the team and need 300 or fewer career games to register 100 goals.


ROOKIE STOPS

Lankinen made a career-high 44 saves in the win on Sunday in his ninth win of the year. Only three rookie goaltenders since 1955-56 have posted more in a victory for Chicago: Bob Janecyk (48 on Feb. 29, 1984 vs. BUF), Darren Pang (48 on Jan. 23, 1988 at TOR) and Collin Delia (46 on Dec. 27, 2018 vs. MIN).

Only Tampa's Andrei Vasilevskiy (8) finished with more victories than Lankinen (6) in the month of February.

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