The Blackhawks fell to the Tampa Bay Lightning 6-3 at the United Center on Sunday.
Here are 10 observations from the loss:
1. The Blackhawks, leading 2-1, were absolutely buzzing on their second power-play of the game until Alex DeBrincat was whistled for tripping, which was the wrong call because he touched the puck first. They had five shot attempts, four shots on goal and four scoring chances in only 1:13 of action on the man advantage before the penalty nixed the rest of it. It clearly changed the momentum of the game because Tampa scored two goals in a span of 91 seconds immediately after DeBrincat came out of the box. Tough swing of events.
2. This wasn't exactly the goaltending duel we were expecting from Marc-Andre Fleury and Andrei Vasilevskiy, but it's always fun when two of the best to ever do it square off. Fleury is a Top 10 goalie of all-time, and Vasilevskiy is definitely on that path as well — I wouldn't be surprised if we're talking about Vasilevskiy as a Top 5 goaltender ever when his career is all said and done. He's that good. Just ask Kirby Dach and Patrick Kane, both of whom were robbed of goals because of his athleticism.
3. The Blackhawks held the Lightning to only 27 shot attempts in the first two periods. They also allowed just five high-danger chances at even strength during the entire game, per Natural Stat Trick. The Blackhawks didn't play a bad game by any stretch but the wheels completely fell off at the beginning of the third period when they gave up three goals in a 32-second span.
4. Connor Murphy and Alex DeBrincat hit the post within five seconds of each other in the first period that would've put the Blackhawks in front 2-0. How big do those missed opportunities look now?
5. This cross-ice backhand pass by Kane is ridiculous. Great shot, too, by Dylan Strome, who scored for the third time in two games after going seven straight without a goal. He also added an assist later in the game for his 21st point in his last 22 games. He has nine goals and 12 assists over that stretch.
6. As if showing off his passing ability wasn't enough, Kane proved he still has one of the most deceptive shots in the league when he rifled a 72.1 mph wrister right into the top corner to make it 2-1 Chicago. The replay from behind Kane showed just how great of a shot it really was.
7. For the first time since being traded to Chicago in the offseason, Tyler Johnson went head-to-head against his former team, where he won two Stanley Cups. He received the championship ring before the game from his former teammates, which you can see below. It was also just his third game back since undergoing artificial disc replacement surgery and I thought this was his best game of the three so far, easily.
8. If we're handicapping it right now, I think Tampa Bay is the fourth-best team in the league. I put them right behind Colorado, Carolina and Florida, although Calgary is right there, too. But nobody has the postseason moxie of the Lightning, which makes a potential three-peat possible. The challenge? Tampa will have an extremely tough road that will likely include Boston or Toronto in the opening round, Florida in the second, then probably either Carolina or Pittsburgh before running into the best in the West, if it gets that far. That's a grueling path.
9. The Blackhawks celebrated International Women's Day and it was a major success. Among the highlights:
• Six local Olympians from the U.S. women's silver medalist team were in attendance and dropped the ceremonial first puck, which included captain Kendall Coyne-Schofield.
• Girls from Marillac High School shadowed all the women in the Blackhawks' front office across all departments.
• The game presentation staff was all female, including the P.A. announcer.
• Caley Chelios served as the color analyst next to Pat Foley and Colby Cohen, who was between the benches.
10. Quote of the game from Kane on Vasilevskiy: “That’s why he’s one of the best in the world, if not the best. You can tell, he really gives that team momentum.”