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Lightning face another Cup finalist in Blackhawks

by Brian Hunter /

LIGHTNING (0-1-0) at BLACKHAWKS (1-0-0)


Season series: This is the first of two meetings between the Tampa Bay Lightning and Chicago Blackhawks, with the return engagement on Oct. 24 in the Sunshine State. If these teams don't seem familiar with one another it's for good reason: Their last meeting came Nov. 4, 2011, when Steven Stamkos recorded a hat trick as the Lightning beat the Blackhawks 5-4 in overtime.

Big story: A brief season-opening homestand concludes for the Blackhawks, while the Lightning finish off a set of road games against the two Stanley Cup finalists from last season.

Team Scope:

Lightning: The schedule-maker gave Tampa Bay an early opportunity to test its mettle, as the Lightning visit the defending Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks two nights after they were the opponent in the Boston Bruins' season opener.

It turned out to be the Lightning power play that let them down against the reigning Eastern Conference champs. They went 0-for-5 and yielded a pair of shorthanded goals, the first the result of a penalty shot, in a 3-1 defeat. Offseason signing Valtteri Filppula did come through with their lone goal midway through the second period.

"Five-on-five you couldn't say one team is better than the other," coach Jon Cooper said. "Both teams had their chances and I didn't think we gave up too much. Aside from the power play I was really happy with the way we played."

Blackhawks: Four days will have passed between this game and Chicago's season opener, and the Blackhawks get another nice break after Tampa Bay leaves town before they have to travel to face the St. Louis Blues next Wednesday.

The time off was probably useful as the Blackhawks first raised their second Stanley Cup banner in four years and then needed a three-goal rally in the third period to top the Washington Capitals 6-4 on Wednesday. Brandon Saad scored the tying goal and Johnny Oduya the winner, as six different players found the net.

"Coming off a championship, every team is going to bring their best game against us," goalie Corey Crawford said after stopping 28 of 32 shots. "We've gotta be ready. [That] was a hard-fought game."

Who's hot: In addition to scoring in his Lightning debut, Filppula won 59 percent of his faceoffs. Teddy Purcell had a game-high five shots. … Saad added a pair of assists in the Blackhawks' opener for a three-point night. Oduya and Niklas Hjalmarsson were each plus-4 in the victory.

Injury report: Tampa Bay defensemen Sami Salo (upper body) and Brian Lee (knee) are day-to-day. ... The Blackhawks report no injuries.

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