The Lightning needed every second on the clock to beat the Blackhawks on Thursday night, down to the final tenth of a second in overtime.
Defenseman Victor Hedman came off the bench and found the puck on his stick with five seconds left in the extra period. He knew he had one shot left before the buzzer but turned down a backhand chance as time ticked away. Instead, he curled back to just inside the blue line for one last survey of the net.
The Lightning bench yelled to Hedman to shoot, cues he might not have heard had the United Center not been closed to fans. He had enough time to flick a wrister toward the goal. The puck deflected off forward Alex Killorn and past goaltender Kevin Lankinen, the puck crossing the goal line just ahead of the buzzer for a 3-2 win.
An official review showed that the goal was scored with 0.1 seconds remaining, ensuring one of the Lightning’s most imperfect wins was their most dramatic of the season.
“There wasn’t a whole lot of time left,” Hedman said, chuckling. " ‘Killer’ did a good job in front, and the puck went in. Big goal..
The Lightning’s win was their sixth straight, extending the league’s longest active streak and tying their longest winning streak this season. It also was their first win of the season when trailing after two periods.
Tampa Bay was thoroughly outplayed for the first 40 minutes. The Blackhawks were faster and quicker to the puck. The Lightning struggled to get the puck out of their zone and couldn’t muster much offensively as Chicago interrupted their passing lanes.
After a second period that saw the Blackhawks score twice to take a 2-0 lead, the Lightning veterans corralled a disappointed dressing room.
“We talked to one another between periods,” Hedman said. “That (their effort) wasn’t good enough, and that’s the bottom line.
“We expect a lot of ourselves. And as a team and as individuals, we expect to win every game. It’s not going to happen, but that’s the standard that we set.”
It took the Lightning just three minutes into the third period to start to change the dynamic.
Forward Anthony Cirelli’s second shorthanded goal of the season provided a much-needed spark. He tipped a shot by defenseman Jan Rutta past Lankinen 1:04 into the period.
Captain Steven Stamkos scored Tampa Bay’s second goal in a 1:51 span. He got the puck off a faceoff, juked past charging Chicago forward Patrick Kane (who was looking to steal the puck) and unloaded a wrist shot while skating across the slot.
“That settled everyone in, that, ‘Hey, we’re doing the right things. Let’s keep going, and we’re in a position where we know we can win the game,’ " Stamkos said. “And ultimately we did.
“When you play the right way in the third (period) and for most of overtime, sometimes you earn your breaks, and I thought we did.”
Despite allowing two goals and seeing his franchise-record scoreless streak end at 228:09, Andrei Vasilevskiy turned in another remarkable performance with 35 saves. He hadn’t allowed a goal in 11 periods and had shutouts in his previous two games. Ryan Carpenter’s goal 7:24 into the second period broke Vasilevskiy’s streak and was the first shorthanded goal Tampa Bay had allowed in 21 games this season.
Vasilevskiy was screened on Chicago’s second goal, a Kane shot from above the circles that Alex DeBrincat deflected into the net.
After being outshot 27-17 over the first two periods, the Lightning dictated the pace of the game after tying the score early in the third. They outshot the Blackhawks 17-10 in the third period and overtime.
“We’re a resilient group,” Hedman said. “We want to win games, and it doesn’t matter how it looks sometimes. In this league, you’ve got to get those ones where you’re not at your best, and we showed that once again (Thursday).
“(The Blackhawks are) a good team, a different team that we saw the first few games (this season). They’re a well-coached team, and we have our work cut out for us here in the next two games.”
Contact Eduardo A. Encina at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @EddieInTheYard.
First Period—None. Penalties—Coleman, TB (Slashing), 17:58.
Second Period—1, Chicago, Carpenter 4 (Hagel), 7:24 (sh). 2, Chicago, DeBrincat 12 (Kane, Murphy), 14:04. Penalties—Kurashev, CHI (Slashing), 5:54; Volkov, TB (High Sticking), 19:55.
Third Period—3, Tampa Bay, Cirelli 6 (Rutta, Killorn), 1:04 (sh). 4, Tampa Bay, Stamkos 11 (Gourde), 2:55. Penalties—None.
Overtime—5, Tampa Bay, Hedman 5, 4:59. Penalties—None.
Shots on Goal—Tampa Bay 9-8-12-5_34. Chicago 11-16-7-3_37. Power-play opportunities—Tampa Bay 0 of 1; Chicago 0 of 2. Goalies—Tampa Bay, Vasilevskiy 13-3-1 (37 shots-35 saves). Chicago, Lankinen 9-3-3 (34-31). A—0 (19,717). T—2:32. Referees—Tom Chmielewski, Brian Pochmara. Linesmen—Reid Anderson, James Tobias.
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