Despite Chicago’s controlling play, the Tampa Bay Lightning’s third period surge allowed them to defeat the Blackhawks 3-2, taking a 2-1 series lead.

Lightning Defeats Blackhawks In Game Three

Now, Chicago’s shaky defense, who at times looked good, was what led to the Lightning’s victory: they still only had a six-man rotation, with four of them playing majority of the time. For instance, it all started with Victor Hedman’s full-ice pass to Ryan Callahan: Tampa’s goal scorer was able to get behind the sleeping defense and ripped a slapshot past Crawford.

At the same time, Chicago’s defense was not a complete atrocity, as they were able to face a five on three power play onslaught in the second — Bryan Bickell and Brandon Saad were in the box. It was mainly successful due to fantastic goaltending, but the defensive play certainly stepped up.

Still, the Blackhawks should have won because they outplayed Tampa Bay for long stretches of time: Ben Bishop was not even 100 percent, as he constantly left rebounds out in front of the net. But somehow the pucks took some lucky bounces and the Lightning’s goaltender only let in two goals off of 38 shots.

However, when Saad scored five minutes into the third period, many expected the game to be over. Yet the Blackhawks’ defense quickly broke down, as Ondrej Palat scored just 13 seconds after Chicago’s go ahead. And just over ten minutes later, Hedman was back — he got behind the out of position Brent Seabrook — as he delivered a fantastic feed to Cedric Paquette to score the game winning goal.

The Blackhawks dominated total shots, takeaways and faceoffs, yet made defensive mistakes that cost them the game. At the same time, Bishop played good enough to secure the 3-2 win and the Lightning was the tougher team on the ice: they out-hit the Hawks 46-27.

“I liked their first period,” Blackhawks’ Joel Quenneville said. “We had two empty nets and didn’t capitalize on either one. We still had 1-1. Scored a big power-play goal, got some excitement. The crowd was there. I thought we had a good first, they had a good second. Third was even. Tough loss.”

Game four is tomorrow at 8 pm EST on NBC Sports.

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