In each of the five games the Lightning played before their disappointing loss Saturday in Arizona, they defended and competed hard. That high compete level helped them not only keep their goals against number down, it also generated some good scoring chances in the offensive zone. Unfortunately, they were not able to convert on enough of those scoring opportunities and, as a result, suffered some tough-luck defeats.
After the poor defensive performance against the Coyotes, the Lightning returned to the style of play that we had seen prior to that Arizona game. They battled in this contest against the Blackhawks. It's true that they allowed more Grade-A chances than they had in those earlier games, but the Blackhawks have some of the most skilled players in the NHL. The line of Artem Anisimov, Patrick Kane and Artemi Panarin, along with Jonathan Toews combined for 14 shots. Many of those were dangerous. But Andrei Vasilevskiy came up with a multitude of critical saves.
At the other end of the ice, the Lightning generated lots of chances themselves. Many came off the rush, as the Bolts quickly and effectively moved the puck up ice throughout the game. Through two periods, however, the Lightning had managed just one goal against Corey Crawford. But in the third period, the Bolts finally got rewarded for their hard work. They scored four goals and erased a 2-1 deficit. It was the 'Hawks' first regulation loss of the season when taking a lead into the third period.
The Lightning got several terrific performances in this game. At the top of the list was Vasilevskiy, who had to contend with those aforementioned Chicago scoring chances. Brian Boyle had a dynamic game, scoring a breakaway goal in the first and winning a key offensive zone draw to set up Nikita Nesterov's tying goal early in the third. Later in the period, Tyler Johnson broke open the 2-2 tie with a pair of goals that came 30 seconds apart. But outside of Vasilveskiy, the star of the night for the Lightning was Alex Killorn. He was a horse - strong on the puck, skating well, shooting when he had a chance, relentless on the PK and tenacious on the backcheck. He set up both Johnson goals, finishing with two assists.
Clearly, the Lightning really needed this win. The victory improves their record on the road trip to 2-2-1 with one game remaining. But just as importantly, they delivered a strong bounce-back performance after the clunker in Arizona. And hopefully, their third period outburst will open the offensive floodgates.
Lightning Radio Big Moment of the Game:
Johnson's first goal, breaking the 2-2 tie.
Lightning Radio Three Stars of the Game:
- Andrei Vasilevskiy - Lightning. 34 saves.
- Alex Killorn - Lightning. Monster game. Two assists.
- Brian Boyle - Lightning. Goal and assist.