The Blackhawks were hardly in a safe position entering the third period on Tuesday night, but they were definitely in a familiar one, taking a lead into the final 20 minutes. Even with some hiccups in recent third periods, they still found a way to keep their winning intact.
On Tuesday, the Tampa Bay Lightning had other ideas.
Tyler Johnson scored twice in 30 seconds, part of a four-goal third period for the Lighting as they stormed back to beat the Blackhawks 5-2 on Tuesday night. The Blackhawks remain in second place in the Western Conference, two points behind the Minnesota Wild, who still have three games in hand.
The Blackhawks' three-game winning streak is snapped. The bigger, more impressive number of 78-0-5, the Blackhawks' regular-season record when leading after two periods (dating back to the start of the 2014-15 season), is also done.
In all honesty, that record was going to end at some point. How it ended wasn't so pretty. The Blackhawks, taking a 2-1 lead into the third period, trailed 4-2 just 6:44 into it. Nikita Nesterov, Johnson (twice) and Nikita Kucherov (empty-net goal) inflicted the third-period damage.
"They got a big shot right off the faceoff. Didn't look dangerous, and then they scored two quick goals and now we're behind it against a dangerous team," coach Joel Quenneville said. "We did some good things around the net. We had a lot of scoring chances. We didn't have the finish."
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Jonathan Toews did early. The Blackhawks captain had another strong outing, recording a goal and an assist. He was active all night and creating scoring opportunities, especially in the first 40 minutes. But the Lightning were active and aggressive all night and, as Quenneville said, had the finish to go with their chances. Tied 2-2, the Blackhawks were fine. Once Johnson scored his two in 30 seconds — Quenneville wasn't happy with the third goal (Johnson's first) the Blackhawks allowed — the Blackhawks looked stunned.
"It doesn't happy very often," Trevor van Riemsdyk said. "I don't think we were too shell-shocked or whatever you want to say. It takes a little more than that to really do that to us, but obviously we didn't respond the way we wanted to and they got another one there and that was tough. You want to respond a little better right after that first one. The next shift, just put the puck in their end and keep it going that way rather than our end."
On Sunday the Blackhawks squandered a two-goal lead they built entering the third period. They came back to win and extend that impressive when-leading-after-two-periods streak. On Tuesday, they had no answers. Quenneville wasn't in too angry of a mood after this one but considering how good the Blackhawks have always been in third periods, they wanted to be much better in this one.
"We can't be letting games like that slip away," Toews said. "I think the talk for a long time has been starting games a little bit better. I think we've been seeing that. Obviously if we're in the right spot, we're in the driver's seat going into the third periods with a lead. Whether it's one goal or more than that, we've got to find ways to play better. I think a team like that, especially with their speed, they're going to come hard and the finish wasn't there tonight."