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Lightning strike to stop Blackhawks winning streak at 12

Chalk Thursday night up to a case of bad timing for the Blackhawks.

First, there was the bad timing of Richard Panik oversleeping the start of the morning skate that led to coach Joel Quenneville scratching him from the lineup with veteran defenseman Rob Scuderi in his place.

Then, of more importance, the Hawks had bad timing on their puck movement and couldn't mount significant zone time as they put just 18 shots on goal against the Lightning, their lowest output of the season.

And finally there was bad timing on a rarely seen second-period interference penalty when Patrick Kane touched the puck just before he was completely out of the penalty box, an infraction that led to Nikita Kucherov's deciding goal in a 2-1 Lightning victory that snapped the Hawks' franchise-record 12-game winning streak.

It was a bad time to have such bad timing. The Lightning came into the game as the second-hottest team in the NHL and now have won seven straight.

But the Hawks knew their streak would end at some point, and there was little disappointment in a team as talented and playing as well as the Lightning halting it.

"It was definitely a turning point for our season," goaltender Corey Crawford said of the streak. "We were feeling good chemistry throughout the lines. It was definitely important to get on that streak and move up the standings."

It was Crawford who had saved the Hawks a few times during the streak with his stellar play in net, and he had another laudable performance in making 31 saves Thursday.

"Crow was our best player today again," defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson said. "At least he gave us a chance to tie the game up."

But the Hawks' chances were few and far between. They scored 43 seconds into the game when Artem Anisimov sent home a backhander in front of the net, but they managed just three more shots on goal in the first period and five in the second.

The Hawks were hanging with the Lightning until Kane committed back-to-back penalties in the second.

As his penalty for high-sticking expired, Kane came out of the box as the puck was coming to him and a rush was forming for the Hawks — the kind of rush they had scored on time and again during the streak.

But there was a whistle and an official skating toward Kane with his arms crossed indicating interference. It's a rarely seen call for playing the puck before a player has both feet on the ice out of the penalty box.

"I've been around a long time," coach Joel Quenneville said. "For the number of games I've seen, I've seen one other time it happened. A lot of people didn't know the rule."

The Lightning capitalized on Kucherov's goal and for every great save before and after that goal, the Hawks just didn't have the offensive firepower to combat the Lightning. The magic had run out on the streak. But it was nice while it lasted.

"It put us in a great spot," Quenneville said. "You were in that No. 5, 6, 7, 8, 9-hole (in the conference standings) basically almost all year. … Every day you want to try to keep yourself out of that position. There's a lot of hockey to be sorted out, but I really liked what we did."

There wasn't much to dislike.

chine@tribpub.com

Twitter @ChristopherHine

Chris Hine's three stars

1. Victor Hedman, Lightning: Dynamic defenseman had two assists.

2. Nikita Kucherov, Lightning: Scored game-winning goal in second period.

3. Anton Stralman, Lightning: Deflected in a Hedman shot for Lightning's first goal.

Up next

At Panthers. 6:30 p.m. Friday; CSN.

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