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It was an impressive crowd at the United Center for the second-straight game. After the second-highest attended game of the season on Sunday night, 18,429 of the Chicago Blackhawks faithful packed the stands to see the Tampa Bay Lightning outlast the Blackhawks, 4-1 the final score. It was the eighth-best attended game of the season.
Those 18,429 fans saw history in the first period. Dubious as it was, but history nonetheless, as Seth Jones ended a 123-game streak for the Blackhawks of not having a defenseman scoring a powerplay goal. The last one came on May 1, 2021. A full season and a half’s worth of games had gone by, including no goals in the 2021-22 season, which was the first time since 1970 that a team had gone a full year without a defenseman scoring a powerplay goal.
But Jones did it. The goal also ended a 111-game personal streak for Seth Jones, dating back to his time in Columbus, as was astutely pointed out to him by the Chicago Tribune’s Phil Thompson.
After that opening goal, just the ninth opening goal the Blackhawks have scored this season, Tampa Bay would go on to score the next four goals of the game. It was a valiant effort from Alex Stalock in net, making 25 saves on 28 shots faced, with a big second period to keep the game tied 1-1. But the Blackhawks ran out of steam in the third period against a much more well-oiled machine in the Lightning, allowing two goals in just over three minutes before adding an empty-net goal late to seal it.
Chicago is now 4-3-2 when scoring first this season and have dropped 21 of their last 23 games with a 2-20-1 record.
For your health, Blackhawks fans, please watch the USA-Canada game tomorrow night and be reminded of what this season is all about: Connor Bedard.
Blackhawks short-handed at forward
Ahead of tonight’s game, the storyline of players facing their former teams was abundant in both locker rooms. Brandon Hagel was making his return to Chicago for the first time to face the Blackhawks, while Tyler Johnson, Taylor Raddysh, and Boris Katchouk were all facing their former Lightning squad. But it would be Johnson who would be taken out of the equation before puck drop.
After skating in the morning skate and pregame warmups, Johnson was a late-scratch and Caleb Jones would take his place in the lineup with what the team called a non-COVID illness.
This was the second time in the day that an illness kept someone away from the team after Luke Richardson missed morning skate with what assistant coach Derek King called, “Bad Shrimp.” King said there was something going around the locker room, regarding illness, so perhaps this may not be the last Blackhawks player that sits due to sickness over the next few days. Let’s hope that’s not the case.
Following the second intermission, Patrick Kane was not on the bench to begin the third period and the Blackhawks announced he would not return to the game. Chicago was already short-handed in the forwards group tonight with Tyler Johnson not available, so the Blackhawks played the third period with 10 healthy forwards.
The Blackhawks are already dealing with enough injuries in the forwards group coming into tonight’s game. Now they may be down Patrick Kane and Tyler Johnson. You have to think someone is coming up from Rockford ASAP.
Maybe we see Lukas Reichel make his return to Chicago? He did do this tonight for the IceHogs…
Hey, if not now, when?
Following the game, Richardson did say that he would have discussions with Blackhawks GM Kyle Davidson regarding any call-ups from Rockford, and that this would be the kind of situation where one or two players could come up. With Kane potentially missing some time, Richardson mentioned that Reichel could come up and play in a top-six role.
So we shall see.
Of course Brandon Hagel scored
In his first game back in Chicago since being traded last season, former Blackhawk Brandon Hagel tucked his 15th goal of the season in the third period to extend the Tampa Bay lead to 3-1 at that point.
Hagel has become a very good player for the Lightning since joining the team. He tallied two points tonight, moving his total on the season to an even 15 goals and 15 assists in 36 games this season. He’s on what would be a career-high 68-point pace this season.
The two players the Blackhawks acquired in exchange for Hagel last season, Boris Katchouk and Taylor Raddysh had their moments in tonight’s game, but it was Hagel who made the biggest impact for his Lightning club. Maybe those two first-round picks that Chicago also got in the trade will one day score big goals against the Lightning.
One can dream.
The Streak dies!
It’s over. We did it.
Well, Seth Jones did it. But we were all in it together.
The last time the Blackhawks had a defenseman score a powerplay goal was back on May 1, 2021. That’s not a typo. It had been 123 games since Chicago had a powerplay goal come from a blue-liner.
And, double-whammy, it was the first goal of the game. Unfortunately, this was the third-straight game where the Blackhawks scored first and the third-straight game in which they did so and lost the game in regulation.
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