Sunday, January 21, 2018
Tampa Bay Lightning

Lightning up next: Blackhawks keep winning the hard way

The Blackhawks were more than happy to end their father-son trip on a positive note with a 1-0 victory over the Bruins, their second consecutive triumph after dropping their previous two games.

"We got four points out of two games, which is beautiful," wing Marian Hossa said.

But there was something that didn't sit quite right with the Hawks after Friday night's game. It followed an all too familiar pattern they have fallen into this season.

Their opponent outplayed them for the first 20 minutes of the game. The Bruins had 17 shots on goal to the Hawks' six. The Hawks relied on their goaltending, this time from Scott Darling, to keep them in the game early. Then the Hawks tightened up defensively and were able to prevail in a close game thanks to a late goal from Hossa, who has delivered late in games all season.

If you didn't know any better, you might think it was still October or November.

"We got better as the game went on," coach Joel Quenneville said. "Big third periods and finding ways to win is something you have to appreciate, and 'Hoss' scoring another big goal. That was definitely representative of what happened in the first 20 games on several nights."

The Hawks have been able to compile 63 points thanks to their success in third periods of tight games. They are 18-7-5 in one-goal games. Thirty of their 48 games this season have been one-goal games. Even in their victory over the Avalanche on Tuesday, the Hawks had to erase a third-period deficit and made it a 6-4 only because of a late empty-net goal.

There is a glass half-full and half-empty perspective on those numbers. It's bad in the sense that at any moment, like a playoff series, bounces or deflections could start going against the Hawks, and that 18-7-5 mark could get worse if they can't start pulling away from opponents.

But it's good in that the Hawks are in almost every game, and they have the poise and confidence to know they can prevail in close games. Goaltending, like the effort the Hawks got from Darling in his second shutout, is a big reason for that. So is Hossa, who has come up with timely goals. His score with 1 minute, 26 seconds remaining near the net off a feed from Tanner Kero was his fifth winner of the season. It was also his first goal since Dec. 15.

"Everybody wants to score the deciding goal, or tie the game," Hossa said. "Obviously, our line didn't have much going offensively, but good things happen when you stay patient and stay with the game plan."

Added Quenneville: "We'll call him clutch. The timing has been outstanding for him and for us. . He goes to the net. It was a great play at the net finding a way to get through. A lot of his goals have been right at that doorstep, which is a nice place to be."

And it helped turn what could have been another loss into two more points in the standings.

"In that early part of the year, we're winning a lot of games saying, 'We're fortunate,' and you can say we were again (Friday)," Quenneville said.

Comments
Lightning falls to Wild, its fifth loss in seven games

Lightning falls to Wild, its fifth loss in seven games

ST. PAUL, Minn. — The Lightning said all the right things about needing to look in the mirror and do some soul-searching during its recent funk. Veterans said they had to lead the way. Coach Jon Cooper believed this eight-game trip would "show us wha...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Mikhail Sergachev gets thrown into the fire for Lightning

Mikhail Sergachev gets thrown into the fire for Lightning

ST. PAUL, Minn. — For the first 20-plus games this season, Lightning associate coach Rick Bowness knew "the look" was coming.The other team’s top line would jump over the boards and Tampa Bay rookie defenseman Mikhail Sergachev would peek over at Bow...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Missing the Olympics a missed opportunity (and misstep) for NHL?

Missing the Olympics a missed opportunity (and misstep) for NHL?

One week from today, Tampa will be the center of the hockey world.The All-Star Game will be held at Amalie Arena. Players will smile for the cameras. They'll put on a fantastic show. Maybe they'll catch a bead or two from a Gasparilla parade.But you ...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Andrei Vasilevskiy: ‘I have to be better’

Andrei Vasilevskiy: ‘I have to be better’

The rest of the Lightning players had already left the ice Friday afternoon, heading into the dressing room for a quick change before the team's charter flight to Minnesota.But goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy, 23, stayed on late, facing about 15 minutes mo...
Published: 01/20/18
Fennelly: Lightning needs a reset on the road … pronto

Fennelly: Lightning needs a reset on the road … pronto

TAMPA — Vegas has left the building.Wasn't the Lightning just arranging place settings for next weekend's NHL All-Star Game party?With that in mind, I headed to the home dressing room at Amalie Arena late Thursday after the Lightning was manhan...
Published: 01/19/18
Updated: 01/20/18
Golden Knights move within one point of Lightning for top spot in NHL

Golden Knights move within one point of Lightning for top spot in NHL

SUNRISE — Aaron Ekblad scored 40 seconds into overtime to lift the Panthers to a 4-3 victory over the Golden Knights on Friday, spoiling Vegas coach Gerard Gallant’s return to Florida. By gaining a point, Vegas moved within one point of the Lightning...
Published: 01/19/18
Time for Lightning leaders to snap team out of funk

Time for Lightning leaders to snap team out of funk

ST. PAUL, Minn. — Steven Stamkos sat at his stall in a near-empty Lightning dressing room Thursday and did what captains often do:He shouldered some blame for the Lightning's listless 4-1 loss to Vegas."As a leader, I've got to be a lot better,...
Published: 01/19/18
Why I hate the NHL All-Star Game

Why I hate the NHL All-Star Game

TAMPA — The NHL All-Star Game is coming to town next weekend, reaffirming our community's ability to step into the breach when needed. We don't stop until we get the Winter Olympics. So, don't be surprised if those next Rays stadium plans ...
Published: 01/19/18
Steven Stamkos: ‘I have to be a lot better’

Steven Stamkos: ‘I have to be a lot better’

There was plenty of blame to go around after the Lightning's 4-1 loss to the Golden Knights Thursday night.This loss wasn't on one person, no question.But captain Steven Stamkos showed some leadership by shouldering some responsibility for the team's...
Published: 01/19/18
Lightning falls to Golden Knights

Lightning falls to Golden Knights

TAMPA — The door to the Lightning dressing room remained closed a little longer than usual Thursday night, and that wasn’t surprising. After the kind of performance displayed in its 4-1 loss to the expansion Golden Knights, this had team...
Published: 01/18/18
Updated: 01/19/18