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Top line leads hot Tampa Bay Lightning past Chicago Blackhawks

Apr 27, 2021; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Erik Cernak (81) and Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Connor Murphy (5) fight during the second period at United Center. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

Brayden Point tallied a goal and two assists, Alex Barre-Boulet scored and Ondrej Palat added two assists as the visiting Tampa Bay Lightning rode strong production from their top line to defeat the Chicago Blackhawks 7-4 on Tuesday night and clinch a playoff berth.

Alex Killorn added two goals and Blake Coleman had a goal and an assist as Tampa Bay improved to 7-3-0 in its past 10 games by winning for the third straight time. The defending Stanley Cup champion Lightning (33-14-2, 68 points) continue to vie with Central Division-leading Carolina and Florida in a tight race down the stretch.

Mikhail Sergachev also had two assists for the Lightning.

The Blackhawks (22-22-5, 49 points) saw their flickering playoff hopes take a hit as they lost for the third time in four games.

The Lightning raced to a 3-1 first-period lead, but Chicago rallied to climb within a goal as Wyatt Kalynuk scored unassisted at 17:59 of the first period.

Chicago drew no closer, though, as Point, Coleman and Killorn scored within a 6:59 span midway through the second period to put the game away.

Duncan Keith beat Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy with a wrist shot at 19:28 of the second period and Dominik Kubalik scored at 13:51 of the third to cap the scoring for Chicago. Patrick Kane assisted on both goals to vault to 45 assists this season, second most in the NHL.

Vasilevskiy stopped 36 of 40 shots for his league-best 29th victory of the season.

The Blackhawks played much of the game with a depleted defensive corps. A check from Erik Cernak sent Adam Boqvist to the locker room in the second period with an apparent right wrist injury. Later in the period, Connor Murphy received a 10-minute misconduct penalty following a sequence in which he instigated a fight with Cernak.

Rookie goaltender Kevin Lankinen started for Chicago but was pulled after one period after allowing three goals on 11 shots.

Malcolm Subban stopped 10 of the 13 shots he faced the rest of the way.

Tampa Bay went 7-0-1 against the Blackhawks during the regular season, taking 15 of a possible 16 points.

–Field Level Media