Blackhawks drop a wild one to Lightning in overtime, 6-5
BY MARK LAZERUS Staff Reporter October 24, 2013 9:25PM
Chicago Blackhawks goalie Nikolai Khabibulin (39), from Russia, cannot stop a backhand goal from Tampa Bay Lightning right wing Martin St. Louis as Blackhawks defenseman Johnny Oduya (27), of Sweden, tries to guard the goal during the sudden death overtime period of an NHL hockey game on Thursday, Oct. 24, 2013, in Tampa, Fla.. The Lightning won 6-5. (AP Photo/Reinhold Matay)
Updated: October 24, 2013 11:29PM
TAMPA, Fla. — Some night, perhaps soon, the Blackhawks will leave an arena entirely happy — not satisfied with managing a point, not content with escaping with a win, not mildly pleased to have held on for dear life.
Thursday night was not that night.
Yes, the Hawks were lucky to leave Tampa with a point after a truly ridiculous 6-5 overtime loss to the Lightning — a point they “earned” when the Lightning scored on their own net from center ice with 1:49 left in the third period.
Yes, they still boast a very good 6-1-3 record 10 games into the season. Yes, they erased their first two-goal deficit of the season with ease and outshot the Lightning 43-25. Yes, they scored more than three goals and scored in the third period for the first time since the season-opener. Yes, the offensive floodgates finally opened, just as the Hawks insisted they would.
But Martin St. Louis’ game-winning goal 76 seconds into overtime was the sixth the Hawks gave up on the night, and for a team that allowed the fewest goals in the league last season, that’s a tough point to swallow.
“You can always look for positives,” Hawks defenseman Duncan Keith said. “But it’s not a game that we’re going to be happy about, giving up that many goals.”
On the other hand, the game was so wild, so bizarre, that it’ll be pretty easy to write it off as a fluke and move on to Saturday’s divisional showdown against Minnesota, the first of a home-and-home series over three days.
“It was a strange game,” said Hawks winger Patrick Kane, who had a goal and an assist (but a minus-3 rating) in a dynamic offensive performance. “Just a lot of weird bounces here and there, weird penalties, different things like that. That’s not really a normal game.”
Certainly not toward the end.
Everything seemed to be looking up for the Hawks after Andrew Shaw tipped in a Kane shot for a power-play goal 93 seconds into the third period. That gave the Hawks a 4-3 lead and seemingly exorcized a few demons — the Hawks’ first fourth goal since the opener, their first third-period goal since the opener, and Shaw’s first goal of the season. It seemed the Hawks’ rally from a 2-0 deficit midway through the second period — on a rebound goal by Bryan Bickell and a tip-in by Marian Hossa, followed by back-to-back highlight-reel goals by Steven Stamkos (two goals, two assists) and Kane — was going to stand and be the feel-good story of the night.
The Hawks and Lightning traded chances after that, but Nikolai Khabibulin (19 saves) and Ben Bishop (38 saves) each made big stops.
Then things got weird.
Victor Hedman tied the game at 4-4 when Michal Rozsival checked Stamkos into Khabibulin with 8:57 left in the third. Stamkos then gave Tampa Bay a 5-4 lead with 2:29 left after Michal Handzus took a head-scratching delay of game penalty for covering the puck after a faceoff.
Then, when the Hawks finally appeared down and out, Tampa Bay’s Matt Carle flung a harmless pass from the red line back to his own end to kill time, only to see the puck hit teammate Radko Gudas and get past a stunned Bishop to tie it at 5-5 with 1:49 to go. Jonathan Toews, the last Hawks player to touch the puck, was credited with the goal.
“We had lots of chances, a couple more we could have had that maybe we didn’t catch a break on,” Kane said. “Maybe the hockey gods were giving us that last one.”
But St. Louis scored early in overtime off a Stamkos assist to give the Lightning the win — their second befuddling one over the Hawks in two meetings. Three weeks ago, the Hawks blew a 2-0 third-period lead at home against the Lightning and lost in a shootout. Now this.
The Hawks were glad to be done with Tampa Bay, and relatively satisfied to come away with a point in such unusual fashion. But happy? No, it’s been a while since the Hawks have been genuinely happy after a game, gaudy record be damned.
“We’ll take a point,” Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said. “Especially the way it evolved there in the crazy third period — some things you’ve never seen before. We were victimized by what we did a couple of times, but we were fortunate to get that one at the end. Didn’t like the ending, though.”