There were eight goals scored in the middle stanza tonight, including a hat-trick from Steven Stamkos. Stamkos now has four career hat tricks which is mind blowing thinking he has only been in the league for that many years. With the hat trick, Stamkos is now second in the NHL in scoring with nine goals.
If it wasn't for the Lightning offense, this game would have been ugly because its defense sure wasn't the reason it won this game. With eight neutral zone turnovers, Tampa Bay showcased another poor defensive effort as it has throughout the season. The Lightning were outshot 15-8 in the first period and Dwayne Roloson is a big reason the Lightning stayed in this one, by making some key saves in the early. Anyone who even utters a syllable that merely questions Roloson's play tonight did not watch the game or does not know a thing about hockey, or BOTH. Just because there were four goals let in tonight, doesn't mean it's the goaltenders fault.
Tonight's start wasn't the most desirable of starts for Tampa Bay, but just like it has done so far this season, it relied on its "no-quit" attitude to get the job done.
"We have known for a while we never quit, we have the character," Stamkos said. "We didn't start the way we wanted to, they had a lot of shots in the beginning but once we got settled in we are a tough team to play against. I don't think they really got much in the 3rd period scoring chance wise."
Tampa Bay got on the board first when Stamkos scored on a rebound 15 seconds into the second period. That lead did not last for the Lightning because 20 seconds later, Brett Connolly was called for tripping and Chicago capitalized on the power play with a goal from Patrick Sharp at 1:05. It was quite unfortunate for the Lightning, the call was a pretty bad one.
Tampa Bay did find the net again when Brett Connolly scored his second NHL goal, putting the Lightning up 2-1 after pouncing on a puck in the crease. Then, it was all Blackhawks. Chicago scored three goals in 65 seconds including tallies from Marian Hossa, Dan Carcillo, and Sharpe. That's when Lightning coach Guy Boucher called a timeout to round up the troops. Post timeout, the Lightning were a different team. Yeah there were still a few turnovers, but there was a fire lit underneath those players and damn did they look motivated. The Lightning began generating a lot more pressure and chances against Ray Emery, including goals from Stamkos at 11:45 and 19:27 of the second period.
The Lightning played a lot of dump and chase in the third period and obviously shifted focus from offensive play to improving on defense, which it surely did. After a back and forth third period, the game made its way to overtime and that's when Lecavalier lit the lamp after a perfect pass from St.Louis.
Thank god Stamkos and the offense showed up tonight. If he didn't, this game would have been an out of hand one for the Lightning. I hope Tampa Bay doesn't keep having efforts like this on defense, or Steve Yzerman needs to get that top four defensemen, STAT.
Notes...Lightning defenseman Marc Andre Bergeron had two assists tonight and now leads the NHL in assists with 13. Bergeron also leads NHL defensemen in points with 15... Martin St. Louis and Patrick Kane both contributed three assists for their respective clubs.