CHICAGO — Blackhawks goaltender Cam Ward has seen the Lightning more than his fair share of times. Forty-five before Sunday's matchup, to be exact.
But in none of those games had Ward faced pressure like he did in the second period of his 46th game against Tampa Bay.
No one in the NHL ever had.
The Lightning shot 33 pucks at the Chicago net in the second, an NHL record for one period since shots by period became an official statistic in 1997-98. Tampa Bay used that high-shot volume to score three second-period goals en route to a 6-3 victory at the United Center.
The win was the first on the road this season for the Lightning (5-1-1), which set a franchise record for shots in one game with 55. That eclipsed the mark of 52 set on Nov. 18, 2008, against the Panthers.
"We talked about it a little bit, just getting shots on the net," center Anthony Cirelli said. "Shots and scrambles. I just tried, whenever I had a chance, to put one at the net."
Cirelli finished the game with nine shots, but he did more than try. After more than three smacks of the puck against the post and Ward's stick, Cirelli scored to give the Lightning a 2-1 lead with 15:38 left in the second. It was the start of a barrage of shots and scores.
"(Cirelli is) just a competitor," center Tyler Johnson said. "When you have guys like that in your lineup, it definitely makes everyone build around it. He is a big part of our team."
After Cirelli's goal, Yanni Gourde extended his point streak to six games when he scored with 7:53 left in the second. Less than two minutes later, Brayden Point gave the Lightning a 4-1 lead that it would carry into the second intermission.
"We didn't like the way we finished the first period, so we really came back strong in the second period," Gourde said.
The Lightning did start off strong and score first. Nikita Kucherov got a backhand goal in the first five minutes. The Lightning also outshot Chicago 7-1 early.
Then, shots on goal — and momentum — swung in the Blackhawks' direction.
With no defender close to him, Chicago left wing Alexandre Fortin took a pass that flew across half the ice from defenseman Jan Rutta and scored on a breakaway for his first NHL goal. That tied the score at 1 with 8:20 left and sparked the Blackhawks. The Blackhawks no longer struggled to get shots off, and they ended up outshooting the Lightning 17-12 in the first period.
Two power plays helped that number. The Lightning killed both, however. The second set a franchise record for most consecutive penalty kills to start the season with 27.
However, that streak came to an end in the third period. When David Kampf scored to bring the Blackhawks within 5-2 with 4:43 left, Lightning goaltender Louis Domingue broke his stick out of frustration. It gave the Blackhawks a power play, which Nick Schmaltz converted on to snap the streak.
The goal was waived off at first because Domingue gloved it.
"The PK had a (heck) of a run," he said. "The fact that it ended on a save, it's all positives for us."
Those two late Chicago goals that came after defenseman Victor Hedman made it 5-1 served as one of the few blemishes on an otherwise impressive game from Domingue, who improved to 2-0. Ryan Callahan capped the game off with an empty-net goal.
Domingue stopped 33 of 36 shots faced.
None of his stops was perhaps more impressive than when he made a half-cartwheel-like save to stop a point-blank shot from Patrick Kane.
"It was amazing," Gourde said. "Louis was great. Tremendous saves throughout the game."
Combine that with a tremendous offensive performance and you produce a victory such as the one the Lightning put together.
One the likes of which Ward had never seen.
Lightning 1 3 2–6
Blackhawks 1 0 2–3
First Period—1, Tampa Bay, Kucherov 3 (Hedman), 3:21. 2, Chicago, Fortin 2 (Rutta, Keith), 11:40. Penalties—Cirelli, TB, (holding), 12:00; Kucherov, TB, (hooking), 17:34.
Second Period—3, Tampa Bay, Cirelli 3 (McDonagh, Point), 4:22. 4, Tampa Bay, Gourde 5 (Palat, Point), 12:07 (pp). 5, Tampa Bay, Point 6 (Kucherov), 14:01. Penalties—Kruger, CHI, (interference), 1:30; Ward, CHI, served by Kahun, (slashing), 4:44; Kruger, CHI, (tripping), 10:32; McDonagh, TB, (roughing), 15:49; Martinsen, CHI, (roughing), 15:49.
Third Period—6, Tampa Bay, Hedman 3 (Girardi, Miller), 10:03. 7, Chicago, Kampf 2 (Rutta, Davidson), 15:17. 8, Chicago, Schmaltz 2 (Seabrook, Kane), 16:12 (pp). 9, Tampa Bay, Callahan 3 (Miller), 17:55. Penalties—Palat, TB, (slashing), 10:49; Domingue, TB, served by Kucherov, (unsportsmanlike conduct), 15:17. Shots on Goal—Tampa Bay 12-33-10—55. Chicago 17-6-13—36. Power-play opportunities—Tampa Bay 1 of 3; Chicago 1 of 4. Goalies—Tampa Bay, Domingue 3-0-0 (36 shots-33 saves). Chicago, Ward 3-2-2 (54-49).