The storylines before the Blackhawks attempted to win their 13th consecutive game made the beginning of Thursday night’s game the most intriguing since the streak began.
Earlier in the day, the Hawks traded forward Ryan Garbutt to Anaheim for Jiri Sekac. With Sekac still in transit, Chicago’s forward lineup took another blow when Richard Panik overslept and missed the morning skate. Coach Joel Quenneville benched the forward, meaning Brandon Mashinter dressed.
And Rob Scuderi was… a wing?
The game got off to a start that reminded fans that these two teams played for the Stanley Cup a few short months ago. Tampa got a quick shot on net on the opening shift, and then Patrick Kane went to work.
It took less than a minute for the Hawks to get on the board, and it was pretty.
From there, however, the opening 20 minutes was all Lightning. Chicago managed only four shots on net, officially, in the first period and didn’t get the last two until the closing minutes of the frame.
It was only because of another tremendous performance from Corey Crawford that the game was tied heading to the second.
Trevor van Riemsdyk took a skate blade to the side of the dace on a penalty kill and needed a few stitches to come back, but was able to return for the second period.
Late in a second period that saw the Hawks with much better puck possession, Kane took two penalties in a row, the second of which coming before he left the box. Literally.
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) January 22, 2016
Nikita Kucherov made the Hawks pay on the second power play, scoring his 20th of the season to give Tampa a 2-1 lead.
Crawford faced 23 shots in the opening 40 minutes, stopping 21 to keep the Hawks in the game.
The Hawks got their tails whipped at the dot in the first two periods, winning only 10 of 33 faceoffs as a team. Even Jonathan Toews, the best faceoff man in the league, was under 50 percent to start the third.
Chicago got two power plays in the first 13 minutes of the third but weren’t able to generate anything. And, quickly after the second came to a close, Niklas Hjalmarsson went to the box for too many men. Hjalmarsson made contact with a Tampa skater as he was coming on the ice before another Hawks player could get off, leaving the Hawks short-handed again with seven minutes left in regulation.
The Hawks killed the penalty, but weren’t able to beat Ben Bishop the rest of the way and the longest winning streak in franchise history came to an abrupt end.
Crawford was magnificent, making 31 saves on the night. He was tested frequently from every angle and had another Vezina-caliber performance against a team playing elite hockey. Bishop only faced 18 shots in the win.
Chicago is back on the ice against the Panthers on Friday night.