CHICAGO — Two years after winning the Stanley Cup with two goals in 17 seconds, the Chicago Blackhawks lamented a lead gone in 13 seconds in Game 3 against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Thirteen seconds after taking the lead in the third period Wednesday night, the Blackhawks surrendered the tying goal to Ondrej Palat and went on to lose 3-2 to fall behind in the series.
“Two games in a row we had the lead, short-lived two times,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “Two tough losses in a row.”
In Game 2, the Blackhawks held the lead for just more than 90 seconds. But this time fans back home at United Center were still cheering Brandon Saad’s goal as the Lightning celebrated Palat’s with 3:11 left.
“It’s tough, the feelings after that goal,” goaltender Corey Crawford said.
Saad’s goal looked like the culmination of the Blackhawks coming in waves at the Lightning. After a dominant first period and dreadful second, Chicago’s top line got the Lightning running around tired in their own zone.
With Tampa Bay goaltender Ben Bishop obviously labouring and Steven Stamkos’s top line and top defensive pairing of Victor Hedman and Anton Stralman gassed, Maria Hossa found Saad wide open in the slot for his seventh goal of the playoffs.
Momentum was Chicago’s, until the Lightning’s “Triplets” line of Palat, Tyler Johnson and Nikita Kucherov crashed the net. Palat put the puck in at the right post to tie the score 2-2.
“Big shift after goals, either way, we should be excited about being out there,” Quenneville said. “They got it to the net, loose puck ends up in the back of our net. You’d like to be going the other way after a draw, but certainly you can’t give up that type of goal.”
Of course the Blackhawks had other chances, most notably in the game’s first few minutes as Bishop was struggling to settle in. Hossa missed a wide-open net as Braydon Coburn was tripping him, and Teuvo Teravainen also fired wide with plenty of mesh to hit.
“I wish that it didn’t happen and tried to move on, tried to play the game so not to think about it,” Hossa said. “Can’t think about it too much.”
Now the Blackhawks are left to think about missed opportunities, the lead that slipped away and preparing for Game 4 Wednesday night.
“A couple bad habits ended up hurting us,” captain Jonathan Toews said. “Late in the game, we gave up those odd-man rushes we’ve been talking about. We’ll improve in that area and use as motivation to find that anger, the emotion we need to bounce back.”
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Stephen Whyno, The Canadian Press