Tuesday night’s game wasn’t a disaster until the third period. In the first, Chicago got off to a nice start. Three of the Blackhawks’ lines were rolling pretty well, and Jonathan Toews stayed hot with his ninth goal of the season at 10:23.
Toews’ goal marked the first time Chicago’s captain has scored in back-to-back games since he scored in three consecutive contests in early November (Nov. 3, 5, 6).
Unfortunately, Brian Boyle tied the game off a feed from Valtteri Filppula at 18:35 into the first, and the game was tied after 20 minutes.
Only one goal was scored in the second period, and it came off the stick of Duncan Keith.
That missile of a shot saw Toews pick up the secondary assist, giving the Captain a second straight multi-point night. Toews now has seven points (two goals, five assists) in his last four games.
After two periods, the scored was 2-1 in favor of the Hawks. Both teams had put 22 shots on net. Andrei Vasilevskiy was having a marvelous night, and Corey Crawford was matching him on the other end of the ice. The only negative of note through 40 minutes was the Blackhawks’ power play, which was 0-4 after two periods.
How bad was the third period on Tuesday night?
Vasilevskiy stopped all 14 shots he faced – and had an assist.
Crawford stopped 10 of 13 – and got pulled for an extra attacker with 3:21 left in regulation.
And what was a tight, 2-1 game after 40 minutes ended in a 5-2 blowout win for the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Nikita Nesterov started the scoring with a bomb right off a Brian Boyle faceoff win at 2:47. Then Tyler Johnson scored twice in 30 seconds – at 6:14 and 6:44 – to blow the game open. Nikita Kucherov finished the night with an empty net goal, his 18th of the year. Alex Killorn and Filppula had two assists each for Tampa.
It was ugly.
But then you look at the box score and there are some lines that make you scratch your head.
Patrick Kane was limited to two shots on net but his line was dynamite all night. Artem Anisimov won 13 of 16 faceoffs, his best night at the dot this season. He also had two hits and one takeaway, but was minus-two. And Artemi Panarin was credited with a game-high seven shots on goal and had the primary assist on Keith’s goal. He was also credited with one takeaway.
Toews started on a line with Ryan Hartman and Richard Panik, both of whom had an assist on his first period goal. Hartman was credited with a game-high five hits in the game, but was minus-three. Panik was also minus-three with one hit in the game. That line had six shots on goal as a group, with Toews’ four leading the way.
Tanner Kero was seven of 12 faceoffs. Marcus Kruger was activated off IR earlier on Tuesday, but didn’t dress.
Chicago’s fourth line was a ghost, though. Nick Schmaltz and Dennis Rasmussen lost five faceoffs each, combining for zero wins at the dot. Rasmussen, who missed the morning skate because of an illness, put three shots on net in just over 11 minutes. Schmaltz had two takeaways and one shot on net in 8:55. Desjardins was credited with zero shots on net in 7:22.
Duncan Keith led the Hawks with three blocked shots and put six on net himself in the loss. He was also credited with two takeaways, but was minus-two.
The Blackhawks final game before the All-Star Game is Thursday against Winnipeg at the United Center.