NHL: Lightning down Blackhawks but lose Steven Stamkos to injury
Brayden Point scored the game-winning goal — his second goal of the game — with 59.7 seconds left in Tampa Bay’s 3-1 victory over the visiting Chicago Blackhawks Saturday, but the Lightning lost star center Steven Stamkos to an injury.
Point, who has 11 goals in the past 11 games, extended his career-high mark to 43 this season by blistering a shot from the high slot off a pass from Nikita Kucherov for the winner.
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Brandon Hagel scored his 23rd goal of the season into an empty net with two seconds remaining.
Kucherov’s assist gave him points in 24 straight home games — the 12th-longest mark in NHL history.
Backup goaltender Brian Elliott stopped 22 of 23 shots, and defenseman Victor Hedman returned to the lineup with an assist after a two-game absence.
Tampa Bay won its eighth straight over Chicago and is 19-1-1 in the past 21 meetings with the Blackhawks.
However, in a largely uneventful first period, the news became bad for the home side with just under three minutes remaining.
Stamkos, 33, injured his left leg after getting fallen on by a Blackhawks player and getting up awkwardly during his sixth shift.
As the team’s captain regained his feet, his left knee buckled. The two-time Maurice Richard Trophy winner then clutched the knee, left for the tunnel and headed to the dressing room.
Taylor Raddysh scored a goal for Chicago, and Petr Mrazek was strong in net with 34 saves and kept it tied until the final minute in his second straight start in consecutive nights.
The Blackhawks are 1-6-1 in their past eight games and 1-10-1 in the second match of a back-to-back set.
In the second period, the Blackhawks’ weariness after losing 4-3 in overtime to the Florida Panthers the night before appeared to show up.
The Lightning had long cycling sessions around Mrazek in the period’s first six minutes, with Chicago interested in simply clearing the zone for line changes in the middle period that featured tougher line swapping.
The pressure finally paid off when Hedman skated in below the dot and found Point, who got his own rebound on a save by Mrazek and deposited his career-high 42nd marker at 6:21 for a 1-0 lead.
At 5:23 of the third, Raddysh — a second-round pick by the Lightning in 2016 — took a feed from rookie Cole Guttman and roofed his team-leading and career-high 17th goal over Elliott for a 1-all tie.
–Field Level Media
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