Tampa was down some significant pieces with the Blackhawks coming into their barn on Thursday night, but based on how the two teams have been playing over the past couple months it’s easy to imagine how the Lightning could still feel confident.
The opening 20 minutes saw both teams send three skaters to the box and neither team convert on a power play. Chicago held an 11-10 shot advantage after one period and the score was tied at zero. As has been the case frequently over the past two months, Corey Crawford was busy keeping the Hawks in a game.
Brayden Point scored at 15:31 into the second period. Only two penalties were called in the second and it appeared both teams were more comfortable actually getting to spend some time at even strength. Chicago didn’t answer the Point goal before the second intermission.
When Nikita Kucherov scored 17 seconds into the third period it felt like a potentially back-breaking goal. The Hawks were getting skated around and struggling to consistently attack the net; Chicago was out-shot 17-6 in the second period.
Then the least expected series of events played out.
Chicago scored five unanswered goals.
Brandon Saad got Chicago on the board at 4:36 into the third.
Dominik Kubalik tied the game 26 seconds later.
Slater Koekkoek, a former Lightning player, scored his first goal with the Blackhawks against his former employer ten minutes into the third to give the Blackhawks a 3-2 lead.
Kucherov went to the box at 10:35 and the Blackhawks converted on the power play. Kubalik picked up his second of the night.
Kubalik wasn’t done. He added his third of the night and 29th of the season into an empty net inside the final three minutes of regulation to put the capstone on a stunning third period rally.
For the first time in 11 years, the Blackhawks won a regular season game in Tampa.
Crawford was spectacular. He stopped 37 of 39 in the victory.
There was only one assist awarded in the game on Chicago’s five goals. Saad picked up a helper on Kubalik’s third and final goal, giving him two points.
In the continued “development is our primary objective down the stretch” department, both Adam Boqvist and Lucas Carlsson were held under 12 minutes of ice time in the game. Boqvist put two shots on net and blocked one in 11:53. Carlsson put one shot on net and was credited with two hits in 11:40.
Five Blackhawks forwards failed to register a shot on net.