Blackhawks drop Season Opener to Defending Cup Champs

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NEWARK, NJ – DECEMBER 06: Chicago Blackhawks head coach Jeremy Colliton on the bench during the second period of the National Hockey League game between the New Jersey Devils nd the Chicago Blackhawks on December 6, 2019 at the Prudential Center in Newark, NJ. (Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Steven Stamkos had a goal and two assists in his return to the Tampa Bay Lightning lineup, and the defending Stanley Cup champions opened the season with 5-1 victory against the Chicago Blackhawks on Wednesday night.

The Lightning captain, who played just one game in the playoffs, has points in 17 consecutive games — including 14 goals.

Brayden Point, Anthony Cirelli, Ondrej Palat and Mathieu Joseph also scored to help Tampa Bay win its seventh consecutive season opener. Victor Hedman and Alex Killorn each finished with two assists. Andrei Vasilevskiy had 23 saves.

Dylan Strome scored for Chicago, and Malcolm Subban stopped 28 shots.

Tampa Bay raced out to a 3-0 lead in the opening period on Palat’s rebound goal on the power play, Joseph’s redirect that bounced in off Subban, and Cirelli’s deflection of Erik Cernak’s shot.

Stamkos made it 4-0 with a power play goal in the second and Point one-timed Stamkos’ pass from the slot in the third.

Strome broke the shutout bid with a power-play goal that bounced in off the skate of Vasilevskiy with 3:24 remaining.

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