Looking to avoid back-to-back losses for the first time this season, the Lightning spotted Chicago a two goal lead before storming back in overtime.
Three of the NHL’s highest-paid players were on the ice in Tampa tonight. Patrick Kane ($10.5MM) and Jonathan Toews ($10.5MM) are not posting the numbers expected of the 2nd highest paid players in the league. Steven Stamkos ($8.5MM), on the other hand, is giving GM Steve Yzerman exactly what he wants from a big-money contract.
High Priced Talent
Toews has just 13 points on the season, and Kane entered tonight’s contest fourth on his team in goals scored. That’s partly why the Blackhawks found themselves fifth in the Central division entering Wednesday night. Kane’s fortunes turned in the first period after his wrist-shot from the left circle flew past Andrei Vasilevskiy and into the far-side of the net.
The NHL’s second-highest paid player (tied w Toews) wasn’t done there. Yanni Gourde and Victor Hedman found themselves in the penalty box together after committing minor penalties, 21 seconds apart. A well-executed power play gave Kane his second goal of the game, eighth of the season.
He is now five goals short of tying Dennis Hull for fifth on the teams’ all-time list.
That kind of puck movement is why the Hawks were successful with a 5-on-3 and the Bolts weren’t.
— Brooks Roland (@BrooksRoland82) November 23, 2017
Tampa Bay (4) and Chicago (2) combined for six penalties in the opening period, but the difference in power-play effectiveness was a one-sided affair. For Tampa Bay, passes were arrant, shots were soft, and pucks cleared the zone several times because of, what looked like, a lack of communication. It was as if they had already stuffed themselves of turkey and mashed potatoes.
Tale of two periods
Nothing about the second period resembled the first. The Bolts came out much more aggressive than they were in the opening period. And although they were unable to score on the power-play that carried over, the home team looked completely different.
“It wasn’t working for us in the first, and Chicago had something to say about that. When we didn’t score on those power plays I think our game went downhill,” Jon Cooper said after the game. “I think we needed that period break to regroup and understand there was a lot of game left.”
Given the effectiveness of the Chicago power play to start the game, there was cause for concern in the second period when, Cedric Paquette, appearing in only his seventh game, went to the box for high-sticking. Trailing by two goals and on the penalty-kill, the Lightning showed the explosiveness that has led them to the best record in the league.
After chasing down a loose puck, Victor Hedman raced toward the net. With two Blackhawks defenders in tow, the defenseman dropped a back-handed pass to Ryan Callahan who fed Ondrej Palat for Tampa’s fourth short-handed goal of the season.
— NHL (@NHL) November 23, 2017
Last season the Nashville Predators led the NHL with 12 short-handed goals. With four goals when down a man already this season, the Lightning are on pace 15 short-handers this season. The t mark has only been met 23 times in the history of the National Hockey League. Most recently, the Ottawa Senators tallied 17 during the 20015-2016 season.
A Point for the birthday boy
Vladislav Namestnikov turned 25 years old today and entered the game with 99 career points. Brayden Point made sure that the Russian forward had more than just one reason to celebrate on this night. His game-winner in overtime gave the Lightning their 16th win of the season – it also netted Namestnikov the 100th point of his career.
Three Stars of the Night
1st Star: Brayden Point
2nd Star: Patrick Kane
3rd Star: Ryan Callahan
This was the Lightning’s final home game of November. They embark on a four-game road trip starting Friday night in DC. They’ll return home on December 2, to face the San Jose Sharks.
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