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Third period letdown costs Bolts in loss to Chicago

Tampa Bay allowed five unanswered third period goals in Thursday's 5-2 loss to the Blackhawks

by Jacob Lynn @TBLightning / TampaBayLightning.com

Early in the third period of Thursday's game versus Chicago, the Lightning appeared to be in cruise control.

Nikita Kucherov had just scored to put the Bolts up 2-0 and Curtis McElhinney had stopped everything the Blackhawks had thrown his way.

Led by a hat trick from Dominik Kubalik, however, the Blackhawks responded with four goals in seven minutes of the third period to turn the game around and hand the Lightning a 5-2 defeat.

It was hard for either team to settle into the flow of the game with a constant string of penalties for most of the first 40 minutes. Both the Bolts and Hawks had four power play opportunities over the first two periods but neither team managed to break through.

The Lightning finally got on the board with Brayden Point capping a few shifts of sustained pressure in the Chicago zone with his 23rd goal of the year. Point wheeled around at the point and fired a shot that beat Corey Crawford through traffic in front.

Tampa Bay doubled it's lead 17 seconds into the third when Kucherov scored on a one-timer from the right circle off a feed from Point. That would be the only highlight in a rough final frame for Tampa Bay on Thursday.

Chicago quickly tied the score at two with Brandon Saad and Dominik Kubalik scoring in rapid succession just 28 seconds apart. The Blackhawks then took the lead midway through the period when former Bolt Slater Koekkoek's point shot deflected off a defender and past McElhinney. Kubalik added his second goal of the night on an ensuing power play to double Chicago's lead and finished off the hat trick with an empty net goal to round out the scoring.

The Bolts played Thursday's game shorthanded with Steven Stamkos, Pat Maroon and Blake Coleman all out of the lineup. Stamkos and Maroon were each out with injuries, while Coleman missed the game to be with his wife who was in the process of giving birth.

The Lightning will try to snap this four-game losing streak when they host the Flames on Saturday evening.

Scoring Summary
1st Period
No Scoring

2nd Period
15:31 Brayden Point (23) - Victor Hedman, Nikita Kucherov

3rd Period
TBL | 0:17 Nikita Kucherov (31) - Brayden Point, Ondrej Palat
CHI | 4:36 Brandon Saad (20) - Dylan Strome, Kirby Dach
CHI | 5:02 Dominik Kubalik (27) - Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith
CHI | 9:56 Slater Koekkoek (1) - Unassisted
CHI | 11:43 Dominik Kubalik (28) - Duncan Keith, Alex DeBrincat
CHI | 17:29 Dominik Kubalik (29) - Brandon Saad - EN

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