Thanks to Kristers Gudlevskis, the Lightning took a point out of this game. Like the October 13th game in Detroit, the Lightning were playing the second half of a back-to-back on the road against a rested opponent. The circumstances were even tougher in this back-to-back – in the first back-to-back, the Lightning started with an afternoon game in Boston before traveling to Detroit. In this one, the Bolts played a night game the previous evening in Winnipeg, so after clearing customs, they didn’t get to Chicago until the wee hours of the morning.
In that game against the Red Wings on October 13, the Lightning played a solid first period and were able to carry much of the early play. But once the second period began, the Lightning lost some of their jump and Detroit enjoyed much of the game’s momentum. The Wings broke a scoreless tie with a late second period power play goal. It was an important tally, because it forced the Lightning to play catch-up the rest of the way. The Wings eventually won the game, 3-1.
There were some similarities between that game and this one. As was the case against Detroit, the Lightning’s best period was the first. Shots were 9-9 in the frame, but the Lightning dictated play for most of the period. They used their speed to create turnovers in the Chicago end and their relentless pressure forced a number of icing infractions. They also hit two posts, including a chance for Cedric Paquette in which he deflected a puck off Corey Crawford. The puck then ricocheted off the post and slid along the goal line. Of Crawford’s nine saves, his best was on a Steven Stamkos blast from the slot during a Lightning power play.
At the other end, Gudlevskis, who was making just his second NHL start (and first since April of 2014), looked poised and confident from the opening faceoff. He set the tone by making a couple of saves during an early Chicago power play. The Lightning also defended very well in front of him, keeping the dangerous Chicago chances to a minimum.
But like the Detroit game, the Lightning started losing stream in the second. The ‘Hawks had more of the puck possession and, as a result, more of the shot attempts. After posting 17 shots attempts in the first, Chicago had 27 in the second. Only 10 of those were on net, however, as the Lightning were committed to blocking shots and getting in Chicago’s shooting lanes. Still, much of the period was spent in the Tampa Bay defensive zone and the Bolts only mustered four shots on net in the period. Gudlevskis’ best save of the game came late in the frame, when Patrick Kane accepted a stretch pass from Brent Seabrook and skated in on a breakaway. But Gudlevskis denied Kane’s attempt, keeping the game scoreless through two periods.
The Lightning carried a power play into the third and hit their third post early in the period. Tyler Johnson took a pass from Ondrej Palat and rifled a shot from the slot past Crawford. But it hit the post and ricocheted back to Crawford, who covered it. After the Lightning’s power play ended, the Blackhawks went back to applying steady pressure in the Lightning end. The Bolts had to kill two more penalties in the third – they got through both, as Gudlevskis made a handful of saves during those two kills.
With 4:44 left in the third, the Lightning were being outshot, 30-16, in the game – and 11-3 in the period. But coming out of the final TV timeout, the Lightning made a strong push to the end of regulation. They had most of the puck possession in those closing minutes and recorded five more shots on Crawford, who made good saves on an Alex Killorn tip and an Erik Condra rebound chance. The Lightning also caught a break (literally) when Teuvo Teravainen’s stick broke as he attempted to one-time a shot after a cross-ice pass. It was a dangerous chance that never materialized, thanks to the broken stick.
For the third straight game on this trip, the Lightning went to OT. It only lasted 17 seconds. Jonathan Toews cut in between Anton Stralman and Valtteri Filppula to create an open look on Gudlevskis. Gudlevskis poked the puck off Toews’ stick, but couldn’t immediately cover it. Alertly, Toews reached back with his stick to swipe it between Gudlevskis’ pads and into the net.
All teams have to play back-to-back games and often that second game occurs against a rested opponent. Before the game, Jon Cooper noted that there will be games later this year in which the Lightning will be at home, facing a tired opponent that played the night before. In this one, though, the Lightning were the less fresh team. And in those instances, they may need a player to step up. In this case, it was Gudlevskis, whose 31 saves through regulation helped the Lightning bank another point.
On road trips, Cooper wants his team to bring home more points than games played. The Lightning now have four points through three games. With one game left on this difficult road swing, the Lightning are in a position to meet that goal.
Lightning Radio Big Moment of the Game:
Gudlevskis’ save on Kane’s breakaway, keeping the game scoreless.
Lightning Radio Three Stars of the Game:
1.Kristers Gudlevskis – Lightning. 31 saves, helping the Lightning pick up one point.
2.Jonathan Toews – Blackhawks. GWG in OT.
3.Corey Crawford – Blackhawks. 21 saves for shutout win.