Wednesday, March 9, 2011
An end to the Chicago Blackhawks' longest winning streak of the season slowed their pursuit of the lead in the Central Division.
A season-worst skid to start this month has cost the Tampa Bay Lightning their place atop the Southeast.
After their first loss in nine games, the Blackhawks will try to get back on track with their 11th win in 14 games against the Lightning on Wednesday night.
Chicago (37-24-6) was one win shy of matching the longest streak in franchise history, and six points behind Detroit in the Central heading into Tuesday's game against Florida.
The Blackhawks couldn't take advantage of the last-place Panthers, and had their eight-game run snapped as they gave up three first-period goals in a 3-2 loss.
Corey Crawford, who was making his 12th consecutive start in goal, was pulled after the opening 20 minutes, and Marty Turco was barely challenged in relief. Chicago got within one as Marian Hossa extended his point streak to eight games, but it couldn't find the equalizer despite a 29-7 shots advantage over the final two periods.
"I've been around a while and I don't know if I've ever seen a bigger lesson to be learned than I did tonight," Turco said. "Whatever it is we thought to ourselves or did, changed after one period. It was one heck of a wake-up call.
"The way we played (the last two periods) was unreal, but sometimes it's disappointing. Why can't we play like that all the time?"
A night earlier, the Lightning were left scratching their heads for a different reason. They couldn't figure out Washington rookie goaltender Braden Holtby in a 2-1 shootout loss to the Capitals, who now lead the Southeast.
Sean Bergenheim scored in the first period and Tampa Bay (37-21-8) stayed there for much of the game thanks to a strong effort from Dwayne Roloson in net. The Lightning, though, gave up the tying goal with 5:32 remaining in regulation, and couldn't get any of their three shots past Holtby in the tiebreaker.
Tampa Bay also had some bad luck as Vincent Lecavalier's third-period goal was disallowed due to goaltender interference.
The fourth straight defeat pushed the Lightning two points behind the Capitals in the division. Tampa Bay's 0-3-1 slump is its longest since a five-game skid last March 14-21.
"It's been a tough week, week and a half. That's why we have to battle and persist," Lightning coach Guy Boucher said. "It's easy to persist when things go easy. Now, they're just not turning our way."
Recent games against Chicago usually haven't gone Tampa Bay's way either as it's 2-9-1 with two ties in the last 14 matchups. The Blackhawks have outscored the Lightning 14-4 in the last three, including last season's 4-0 win at the United Center.
Jonathan Toews, who had a nine-game point streak snapped Tuesday, has registered four goals and an assist in those games. Patrick Kane, who is on a six-game point streak, has contributed two goals and five assists.
The Blackhawks are 3-0-1 with one tie in their last five trips to the St. Pete Times Forum.
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