Jonathan Toews scored his first goal of the season 17 seconds into overtime to give the Blackhawks a 1-0 victory over the Lightning on Saturday night in a rematch of last season’s championship round that Chicago won in six games.
Corey Crawford made 21 saves for this first shutout this season and 13th of his career in Chicago’s third straight victory.
A determined Toews netted the winner when he barreled into the Tampa Bay zone, and muscled between Anton Stralman and Valtteri Filppula to the net. Rookie goalie Kristers Gudlevskis stopped Toews’ initial chance, but the Chicago captain knocked in his own rebound.
"I was just hoping something would go in," Toews said. "I think there was going to be a bounce like that at some point."
Toews has played well so far, but finally connecting helps ease some pressure.
"Nice to score a big one tonight," Toews said. "I don’t think the pace was quite Stanley Cup Final worthy, but we knew what we had to do against that team."
Gudlevskis made 31 saves in his second NHL start, and first appearance since April 2014, as coach Jon Cooper gave No. 1 goalie Ben Bishop the night off. Bishop was in the net for every minute of Tampa Bay’s first eight games and earned his 100th NHL win on Friday night in the Lightning’s 4-3 overtime victory at Winnipeg.
Gudlevskis, a 6-foot-3, 23-year-old Latvian, was recalled from Syracuse of the AHL before the contest. He got the nod over Kevin Poulin, who was placed on waivers Saturday after not appearing in a game this season.
Cooper was impressed with what he saw.
"Gudlevskis was the best player on the ice for us tonight," Cooper said. "You’ve got to commend the poor kid. He was fantastic out there.
"Their guy (Toews) made a big-time play. It’s a big second-effort goal and you’ve got to tip your hat to him."
Gudlevskis had to be impeccable as the Lightning had only a handful of prime chances, and misfired on some of those.
"It’s like deja vu all over again," Cooper said. "Come here and can’t find the back of the net.
"We hit every post and Crawford made the big saves when he had to."
The Blackhawks played their second game without top defenseman Duncan Keith, who underwent right knee surgery last week. The two-time Norris Trophy winner had a meniscal tear repaired and is expected to miss four to six weeks.
Keith scored a spectacular tiebreaking goal in the Blackhawks’ 2-0 victory in Game 6 that earned them the Stanley Cup for the third time in six seasons.
This rematch was as tight as that series, when all but the final game was decided by one goal.
Both goalies needed to make only a couple of tough saves in a scoreless, choppy first, but the pace picked up late in the period.
Chicago started to carry the play in the second, outshooting Tampa Bay 10-4, but tested Gudlevskis only a few times. The rookie was up to all the chances, including when he dropped to the ice to stop Patrick Kane on a breakaway with 1:15 left.
The Blackhawks dominated most of the third, and outshot the Lightning 30-21 through regulation.
Crawford made a diving glove save to stop Tampa Bay’s Erik Condra, who pounced on a loose puck in front with 2:34 left, to keep it scoreless and send the game to overtime.
NOTES: Lightning C Brian Boyle missed his second straight game with an undisclosed injury. Before the game, Cooper said Boyle was "nicked-up." … Gudlevskis’ one previous regular-season game was a 3-2 victory over Columbus on April 11, 2014. He made two playoff relief appearances later that month against Montreal before spending the 2014-15 season at Syracuse. … Andrei Vasilevskiy, who backed up Bishop during the second half of last season, has been sidelined since Sept. 3 following surgery to remove a blood clot near his collarbone.