The Lightning’s penalty killing unit has been strong against the Western Conference this season, and despite a 4-0 loss to the Blackhawks at the United Center, Sunday night was no exception.
The Bolts killed off two consecutive 5-on-3 penalties early in the first period, and one more late in the third, holding Chicago’s power play to 0-7 on the night and accumulating a 100 percent success rate in their last two contests, killing off 10 consecutive penalties.
“We can’t let ourselves get too far behind, but I think we did a great job with those early PKs [penalty kills],” Lightning forward James Wright said “We can really gain some momentum from those and we have to take what we can from those since we haven’t been getting much offensively.”
Blackhawks goaltender Antti Niemi made 18 saves on 18 shots against and recorded his third shutout in just his eighth game played this season.
Chicago’s Patrick Kane netted the game’s first goal at 7:42 in the opening period after a wrist shot from the right circle hit off of the left goal post before striking the back of the net.
Steven Stamkos, tied for fifth in the NHL in goals, nearly knotted the game halfway through the second period, but his shot off of the right goal post helped preserve Chicago’s 1-0 lead.
The Blackhawks took advantage of the missed opportunity just minutes later at 10:42 as Ben Eager beat Lightning goaltender Antero Niityamaki one-on-one after Marian Hossa negated an icing call and flipped a backhand centering pass from the boards to his wide open teammate in the slot who put Chicago up 2-0.
Hossa, however, wasn’t finished. The Blackhawks winger recorded his fourth goal from the left hash marks just before the horn sounded, giving Chicago a 3-0 leading heading into the final period.
“We’re pretty frustrated with the ways things have gone. We gave them a few opportunities to capitalize and they did. We just need to play better,” Bolts defenseman Matt Smaby said.
Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews clinched the game with his ninth of the season at 6:01 in the third when he put back a rebound from the open slot off of the original shot on net from Dustin Byfuglien.
The Bolts will face Nashville next on Tuesday night at the Sommet Center in the third game of their current six game road trip.
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