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Blackhawks Zapped By Lightning Shutout

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Corey Crawford; Jake Dowel; Niklas Hjalmarsson

Corey Crawford; Jake Dowel; Niklas Hjalmarsson (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

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The Blackhawks dropped another big game as playoff hopes come down to the final days of regular season. The Blackhawks failed to score Sunday while the Lightning shut Chicago out.

Backup Mike Smith made 31 saves for his first shutout in more than a year, and Vincent Lecavalier scored a power-play goal in the first period before leaving with an injury in the Tampa Bay Lightning’s 2-0 win over the Chicago Blackhawks on Sunday night.

Nate Thompson added an empty-net goal with 22 seconds left to seal Tampa Bay’s fifth straight victory. The Lightning improved to 99 points, one behind fourth-place Pittsburgh in the Eastern Conference.

Smith was tested heavily in the final 30 minutes, but held off the Blackhawks and earned his 11th NHL shutout. The defending Stanley Cup champions remained in eighth place in the West, and are still trying to secure a playoff spot with four games left.

Lecavalier was accidentally high-sticked by Chicago’s Michael Frolik early in the second period and didn’t return. The team said Lecavalier sustained a cut to his face.

Simon Gagne had two assists to extend his point streak to six games. He has four goals and seven assists in the span.

Chicago rookie Corey Crawford made his 24th straight start and stopped 13 shots.

Lecavalier’s power-play goal at 7:56 of the first was the only score in the period.

Seconds after winning a faceoff in the Chicago zone, Lecavalier drove to the edge of the net, past defenseman Brent Seabrook, and directed in St. Louis’ perfect feed from the right corner.

Lecavalier was clipped by Frolik’s stick at 4:42 of the second period as Frolik drove to the net. Lecavalier paused for a minute to shake off the impact, but then skated off the ice without help and went directly to the dressing room.

After killing off a double-minor penalty to Frolik, the Blackhawks began dominating and outshot Tampa Bay 11-4 in the period.

Smith blocked several tough chances as the period progressed. Among his best stops were a point-blank pad save on Frolik, a body save on Viktor Stalberg‘s deflection, and a pad save on Tomas Kopecky‘s drive.

During a Chicago power play early in the third, Smith stopped Kopecky’s drive from the right circle and a rebound by Troy Brouwer.

Smith made a point-blank stop on Marian Hossa with 40 seconds left after the Blackhawks pulled Crawford for an extra skater.

NOTES: Lightning D Eric Brewer sat out with an undisclosed lower body injury. LW Ryan Malone was a healthy scratch. RW Patrick Sharp, Chicago’s leading goal scorer with 34, missed his sixth game because of an injured left knee. Blackhawks C Dave Bolland sat out his 10th due to a concussion.

Copyright 2011 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.

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