After getting absolutely demolished by the Florida Panthers, the Blackhawks had a couple days to think about their worst performance of the year.
One skater – Ryan Hartman – got another night to think about it. After taking a bad penalty and doubling his time in the box with an unsportsmanlike penalty that ended up in a Panthers goal, Hartman had a conversation with coach Joel Quenneville at the morning skate and was a healthy scratch on Monday night in Tampa.
When the game started, Chicago rolled out a top line that had been fabulous for six weeks before Artem Anisimov went down. Nick Schmaltz was back with Jonathan Toews and Richard Panik and Tanner Kero got to ride shotgun between Patrick Kane and Artemi Panarin.
Tomas Jurco got back into the lineup, skating with Marcus Kruger and Marian Hossa. John Hayden was dropped to the fourth line with Andrew Desjardins at center and Jordin Tootoo.
Those interesting lines paid off early and often against the Lightning.
Panarin scored off a good look from Kero only 83 seconds into the game to ensure the Hawks wouldn’t be shutout for the second time in Florida.
That ugly goal allowed by Andrei Vasilevskiy was Panarin’s 25th of the year.
Brent Seabrook went to the box eight minutes later and the Lightning power play tied the game. The Blackhawks number seven was in the box for seven seconds before Ondrej Palat scored to tie the game at one. After officially killing four of five against the Panthers, the Hawks didn’t look great right off the draw in Tampa.
But the Hawks offense wasn’t done.
Patrick Kane got the lead back 48 seconds after the Palat goal.
Chicago would get a power play 41 seconds after the Kane goal but couldn’t take advantage. But they would extend the lead to 3-1 soon after the power play ended.
Tomas Jurco’s first with the Blackhawks sent Vasilevskiy to the bench. Peter Budaj came in for the final 6:19 of the first period after a rough period for Tampa’s starter. Budaj stopped all three he faced in that stretch, and Vasilevskiy was back between the pipes to start the second.
Chicago held an 11-9 shot advantage after 20 minutes, but their 3-1 lead on the scoreboard was more refreshing after a few ugly games recently.
It took almost nine minutes into the second period for the goal light to get another use, and it came from the Blackhawks again. This time, it was Richard Panik.
Panik’s 21st of the season saw the assist go to Trevor van Riemsdyk. On the Hawks four goals, three defensemen had an assist; Niklas Hjalmarsson and Duncan Keith assisted Kane’s goal. The other two assists were from rookies – Kero and Schmaltz.
That’s when the wheels started to fall off for the Hawks.
Three minutes after the Panik goal, Jonathan Drouin scored his 19th to cut the lead to two. Anton Stralman scored again 62 seconds later and a relatively comfortable three-goal lead had been quickly cut to one.
When Hjalmarsson went to the box later in the second, the surging Lightning had the opportunity to tie the game and did just that. Drouin scored his 20th of the year and second of the game and the Blackhawks had fully squandered what had been a nice offensive performance through 30 minutes.
Tampa out-shot Chicago 14-10 in the second period and scored three goals in a span of 4:39.
The Blackhawks got a third power play 1:40 into the third period, with Luke Witkowski headed off for the second time in the game. Chicago had a few looks but couldn’t capitalize on the advantage and two more minutes came off the clock with the game still tied.
That’s where the score would stay through the end of the third period, with the Blackhawks out-shooting the Bolts 10-3 in the third. Darling finished 60 minutes of hockey with 22 saves against 26 shots.
The Hawks’ leaders through 60 were all at five: Hayden had five hits in 9:51 through regulation in a fourth line role. Hjalmarsson had five blocked shots through three periods, and Panarin had five shots on goal.
Chicago would need a fifth goal to win the game.
Unfortunately, that fifth goal would be scored by Tampa.
After an up-and-down sequence with both teams getting decent looks on net, Yanni Gourde scored his second of the year with only 35 seconds left on the overtime clock to give Tampa the 5-4 victory.
Nikita Kucherov was the 58th overall selection in the 2011 NHL Draft, and has been on an MVP run lately with 31 points in his last 17 games. The Blackhawks selected four players before Kucherov that summer (McNeill, Danault, Clendening and Saad), but the only player from the top 57 overall selections of the 2011 class currently on Chicago’s roster is Jurco (selected 35th by Detroit). The Lightning also picked Vladislav Namestnikov with the 27th overall pick in 2011.
Drouin’s two goals give him 28 in 157 career regular season games. He was the third overall pick in the 2013 NHL Draft, 27 slots before Hartman. Chicago’s rookie forward has 18 goals in 73 career games. Hayden, the Hawks’ third round pick that year, skated in his seventh career NHL contest on Monday night.