Whoops ... My Bad: Lightning 6, Blackhawks 3 - March 7, 2021

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Whoops … My Bad: Lightning 6, Blackhawks 3 – March 7, 2021

Chicago Blackhawks

I would like to formally apologize for the bad things that I have done in my life. Most recently, this tweet:

The Chicago Blackhawks got off to a wonderful start against the Tampa Bay Lightning in their Sunday matinee, leading 2-0 after the first period. Hell, they had a 3-0 lead early in the second period too. But it all went crashing down in spectacular fashion in what was ultimately a 6-3 loss. The Lightning have won eight straight games against the Blackhawks with Andrei Vasilevskiy in net.

In three games against the Lightning over the past four days, the Blackhawks went 1-1-1 taking three points out of the possible six. After two thrilling games that could have gone either way in extra time, the Blackhawks showed another instance of needing to learn the lessons of closing out games.

With the loss, the Blackhawks fall to 13-8-5, still with 31 points in the standings. The Lightning remain at the top of the Central Division with a 17-4-2 record and 36 points in the standings. Chicago’s record against the Lightning this season moves to 1-3-1. This was Chicago’s first regulation loss of the season when they have scored the first goal (9-1-2).

The Blackhawks got out early with two goals in the first period coming from rookie Philipp Kurashev and Mattias Janmark. Kurashev tallying his sixth goal of the season, Janmark his eighth of the season. Janmark’s goal came on the powerplay and was an impressive showing of hand-eye coordination.

With an assist on the Janmark 2-0, Patrick Kane now has seven points in his last four games. He leads the Blackhawks in points this season and has tallied at least one point in 20 of 26 games in 2021.

But not all was perfect like the weather on this Sunday afternoon. After Pius Suter added a third goal for Chicago early in the second period, his NHL rookie-leading eighth goal this season, the wheels fell off the Blackhawks. Allowing three powerplay goals in the second period, the Lightning came back to tie the game in just a three-minute span.

As if that wasn’t bad, Connor Murphy received a match-penalty and was ejected from the game for this hit on Lightning defenseman Erik Cernak:

That’s not good.

Intentional or not, Murphy lands his shoulder on the jaw of Cernak, who wouldn’t return to the game. We’ll have to keep an eye out if Murphy will face any supplemental discipline from the league.

Following the hit and the ejection, the Lightning closed with a fourth goal in the period to take a 4-3 lead into the third period. They would add two more in the third period, rubbing the Blackhawks’ face into it with six unanswered goals and four powerplay goals in the game.

Kevin Lankinen made a number of saves to keep the Blackhawks alive later in the game, but was ultimately overwhelmed, making 33 saves on 39 shots faced. Rough afternoon for him.

Chicago showed push back and showed that they can play with the big boys in the NHL this weekend. But the glaring lesson they still need to learn is how to finish games. They’re a young team and sometimes learning how to close games comes with learning from mistakes. They have plenty of mistakes to learn from.

Final Thoughts

•   There’s still a ways to go this season, but the three game set against Tampa Bay showed that the Blackhawks are much better than where they were two months ago. Sitting in the fourth and final playoff spot in the Central Division, Chicago looks the part of a team that can get into the playoffs and make noise. It’s encouraging to see the continued development of the rookies and young players, along with the dominant seasons of Alex DeBrincat and Patrick Kane. This feels like a team that will be playing beyond May 10.

•   The Blackhawks will have to see what the fallout is after the Connor Murphy hit, but it’s possible they maybe be without two of their best defense-first defensemen with Calvin de Haan out with a lower-body injury and Murphy possibly facing suspension.

•   Wyatt Kalynuk made his NHL debut with the Blackhawks, he skated 10:50 minutes in the game. With the Murphy match-penalty, Kalynuk maybe played more minutes than he would have with seven defensemen originally dressed, but I felt the former Wisconsin Badgers Captain played well in his first taste of NHL action.

•   Also making a debut today was former Blackhawks forward Patrick Sharp on the NBC Sports Chicago broadcast. I’m a big fan of Sharp as an in-studio analyst and I think he did a terrific job in his first game alongside Pat Foley.

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Author: Mario Tirabassi

Mario Tirabassi is a writer for Bleacher Nation. You can follow him on Twitter @Mario_Tirabassi.