LIVE: Lightning lead Hawks 1-0 after 2nd period


LIVE: Lightning lead Hawks 1-0 after 2nd period

Sunday, April 3, 2011
Posted: 11:40 a.m.

Associated Press
The Tampa Bay Lightning's win over the Chicago Blackhawks last month was a rare highlight during a disappointing stretch that saw them lose the Southeast Division lead.

Despite that slump, a top-four finish in the Eastern Conference isn't out of the question for the now-resurgent Lightning, who look to win their fifth straight Sunday when they visit Chicago.

Tampa Bay's 4-3 shootout win over Chicago on March 9 was part of a 2-6-4 stretch from March 2-25. Once the Southeast leaders, the Lightning (43-24-11) now trail Washington by six points with only four games remaining.

A more attainable goal may be fourth place in the conference and home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs, but Tampa Bay trails Pittsburgh by three points for that distinction.

The Lightning have already clinched a playoff spot thanks to a four-game winning streak, their longest since a six-game run Jan. 18-Feb. 1. They defeated Minnesota 3-1 on Saturday, as Dwayne Roloson made 29 saves against his former team while Ryan Malone, Steve Downie and Sean Bergenheim each scored.

"We play really well when we have the momentum, and we're playing with a little big of a swagger," Roloson said.

While the Lightning are hoping to improve their playoff position, Chicago (42-27-8) still needs to clinch a spot in the postseason.

The Blackhawks have won four of six, staying three points ahead of Calgary for the final playoff spot with a 4-3 shootout win over Columbus on Friday. Bryan Bickell tied it in the third period, setting the stage for Viktor Stalberg to score the only goal of the tiebreaker.

Chicago won despite blowing an early two-goal lead and putting Columbus on the power play seven times. The Blackhawks killed off six of the opportunities.

"Nothing wrong with that, we'll take anything we can get right now," coach Joel Quenneville said. "When you're down late in the game, it turns out to be a huge win for us."

Quenneville may stick with his newly-configured top line combination of Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Bickell, who joined the line Friday. Bickell's goal was his first since March 5, while Kane had a goal and assist. Both players were plus-2 on the night.

"It's been a while since I scored," Bickell said. "Good things happen when you put it on net and I was just trying to get a rebound for the second opportunity for Toews or Kaner ... It put a big grin on my face."

The Blackhawks, who have won six of seven at the United Center overall, have won seven of their last eight home games against the Lightning.

Kane has three goals and six assists in four career games against Tampa Bay, while Toews has five goals and three assists - also in four meetings with the Lightning.

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Life was a lot different last time the Blackhawks missed the playoffs

Life was a lot different last time the Blackhawks missed the playoffs

For the first time in a decade, the Blackhawks officially will not be in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

With a 5-1 loss to the Colorado Avalanche Tuesday night at the United Center, the Blackhawks will be sitting at home mid-April instead of looking to add to their trophy case.

Exactly 366 days before, the Blackhawks actually became the first NHL team to clinch a playoff berth, also the result of a game against the Avs:

The last time the Blackhawks missed the playoffs, Denis Savard was the coach and Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane were just 19 years old in the midst of their rookie seasons.

The next year, Joel Quenneville took over as coach after four games and led the Blackhawks all the way to the Conference Finals.

Of course, the following year (2009-10 season) brought the first of three Stanley Cups.

For perspective on how incredible this stretch has been for the Blackhawks, here's how the other professional Chicago sports teams spent 2008:

—The Bears finished 9-7 in Matt Forte's rookie year (he's since retired) with Kyle Orton as the starting quarterback and Lovie Smith as head coach.

—The Cubs led the National League in runs scored en route to a 97-win regular season...before falling flat against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NLDS. Lou Piniella was still the manager and Theo Epstein was still three years away from coming to Chicago.

—The Bulls found some incredible luck, pulling the No. 1 overall pick and selecting Chicago native Derrick Rose. He helped the Bulls to a 41-41 season as a rookie under coach Vinny Del Negro.

—The White Sox lost to Joe Maddon and the Tampa Bay Rays in the ALDS after winning the AL Central under manager Ozzie Guillen. Carlos Quentin enjoyed a breakout season (36 HR, 100 RBI) while Gavin Floyd won 17 games. 

The Blackhawks still have eight games left before the 2017-18 season ends April 7.

Alex DeBrincat records third career hat trick, but Blackhawks lose to Blues in overtime

Alex DeBrincat records third career hat trick, but Blackhawks lose to Blues in overtime

For Alex DeBrincat, it was probably nice to hear Chelsea Dagger again.

But how about three times?

The 20-year-old rookie snapped out of a 13-game scoring drought in a big way on Sunday night, recording his third hat trick of the season. DeBrincat did all he could to help give the Blackhawks two points, but they only came away with one in a 5-4 overtime loss to the St. Louis Blues.

DeBrincat is now the first rookie in franchise history with three hat tricks in the same season, passing Steve Larmer. His last two hat tricks came against the Anaheim Ducks on Nov. 27, 2017 and Detroit Red Wings on Jan. 25.

"It's pretty cool," DeBrincat said of his third hat trick, "but I wouldn't be able to do that without the guys we have in this locker room and the linemates I've had. Most credit to them."

Entering Sunday, his last goal was on Feb. 17 against the Washington Capitals.

"Obviously it's frustrating when you go through a slump that like that but what I've learned is to stay positive and there's other things you can help your team win with," DeBrincat said. "Just kind of focus on those things."

He netted goals No. 23, 24 and 25 on the season, tying Patrick Kane for the team lead. He is also tied for second among goals scored by a rookie this season.

DeBrincat opened the scoring with nice wrist shot on the power play to give the Blackhawks a 1-0 lead midway through the first. With less than a minute to go in the period, he tapped one home in front of the net to make it 2-0.

In the third period with the game tied at 3-3, DeBrincat put his team in front 4-3 with 3:13 left in regulation. 

“We were talking about [DeBrincat] today, it had been a while since he had scored," coach Joel Quenneville said. "But whether he scores or not, he does a lot of good things in the game, and he’s very aware of his positioning, and doing the right things, finding pucks, getting in shooting lanes, or denying passing lanes. So he’s effective in a lot of ways, but nice to see him score a nice power-play goal today.”

But Blues captain Alex Pietrangelo even things up again after a shot from the point found its way past J-F Berube with 1:22 left. Patrik Berglund would net the game-winner in overtime to hand the Blackhawks a loss.

"I feel like we’ve played well and we just came up a little bit short," DeBrincat said. "I feel like that’s been the theme of this whole season.”