TAMPA, Fla. – The hockey gods did everything they could to help the Blackhawks overcome another squandered third-period lead, but even help from above – and a little from the Lightning – couldn’t prevent it.
The Hawks allowed another late lead to dissipate – the fourth time in 10 games they have done so – before getting a gift goal in the waning moments to tie it. But they eventually fell to the Lightning 6-5 in overtime Thursday night at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.
The defending Stanley Cup champions had their two-game winning streak snapped when Martin St. Louis scored in the extra period, but the Hawks did extend their points string to seven contests after they were the beneficiary of a Lightning own-goal that extended the game.
“We pretty much controlled the game,” said Hawks winger Patrick Kane, who had a goal and an assist. “We had a lot of shots on net, had a lot of chances, and a couple of more we could have had that maybe we didn’t catch a break on.
“Maybe the hockey gods were giving us that last one, but it’s nice to score goals. We just have to find a way to keep them out now, I guess.”
Steven Stamkos had two goals and two assists, while St. Louis and Victor Hedman each had a goal and an assist for the Lightning, who improved to 6-3-0. Nate Thompson and Matt Carle also scored for Tampa Bay, and Ben Bishop earned the victory in goal.
In addition to Kane’s efforts, Jonathan Toews had a goal and an assist, and Bryan Bickell and Andrew Shaw also scored, but netminder Nikolai Khabibulin couldn’t hold the lead as the Hawks dropped to 6-1-3.
“We’ll take a point,” said Hawks coach Joel Quenneville after the teams combined for four goals in the third period, including two in the final 2 minutes, 29 seconds. “Especially the way it evolved. A crazy third period, some things you’ve never seen before.”
The Hawks trailed after the opening period for the first time this season when Carle scored on the power play, and they fell into their first two-goal deficit in the second on Thompson’s short-handed goal.
The stagnant Hawks offense then caught fire as Bickell, Hossa, Kane and Shaw bracketed goals around a Stamkos score to carry a 4-3 lead midway in the third period.
Hedman knotted things at 4-4, and Stamkos appeared to secure the winner with a power-play goal with 2:29 remaining. It was then the Hawks received their gift, as Carle sent a pass back deep into his own zone that hit the stick and then the skate of Radko Gudas and skipped past a startled Bishop.
Toews was the last Hawks player to touch the puck, so he was credited with the goal.
“That was honestly a lucky one for us,” Hawks defenseman Duncan Keith said. “We had some other chances that maybe could have gone in but didn’t. Somehow, we got a break there.
“You can always look for positives, but it’s not a game that we’re going to be happy about – giving up that many goals, for one thing.”