When the public address announcer gave the starting lineups Friday night, a smattering of boos filled the arena.
The reason: In a game billed as Nikolai Khabibulin's return to the city where he helped win a Stanley Cup in 2004, Craig Anderson was announced as the Blackhawks' starting goalie.
To the disappointment of many fans, Hawks coach Trent Yawney made Khabibulin's homecoming a non-affair, choosing to save his No.1 goalie for Saturday night against Florida in the second of back-to-back games.
Instead of facing his former mates, Khabibulin watched as the Lightning beat the Hawks 3-2 in the team's first shootout loss. The Hawks picked up a point for their efforts.
There was no lavish introduction before the game, and Khabibulin picked up his championship ring at the Lightning offices before Friday morning's skate-around.
"It was my decision," Yawney said. "He and I talked and I just felt that with back-to-back games, I wasn't prepared to play him in both games."
Although Anderson allowed the only two penalty shots he faced, including Brad Richards' game-winner, the goalie played well in stopping 31 of 33 shots in regulation.
Anderson said he expected to start one game of the Florida swing but learned Thursday he would face Tampa Bay.
"I was a little surprised," he said. "I figured Khabi would be playing [Friday] with him coming back here to his old team."
The Hawks outplayed the defending champions for the most part, outshooting Tampa Bay 36-27 with some physical hockey. They even appeared to score a game-winning goal midway through the third period before it was taken away when the video goal judge ruled that Mathew Barnaby knocked the puck in with his glove.
"They were very aggressive, one of the most aggressive teams I've seen," Lightning defenseman Dan Boyle said. "They beat us to a lot of pucks."
Although they played well, the Hawks fell behind twice1-0 and 2-1.
Seconds into a two-man advantage in the first period, Martin St. Louis beat Anderson on a one-timer. Then, with one minute left in the period, the Hawks tied it on Brent Seabrook's fourth goal of the season.
After falling behind again when Vincent Lecavalier scored in a 4-on-4 situation 12 minutes into the second period, the Hawks retaliated in the waning moments of the period. Mark Bell redirected Duncan Keith's rebound to net his team-leading 11th goal.
The teams played to a standstill in overtime, setting the stage for a shootout. Tyler Arnason opened by missing his shot and Lecavalier made his. After Rene Bourque converted and Richards beat Anderson, the Lightning won when goalie John Grahame stuffed Bell for his 12th victory of the season.
"It's going to say loss, but we know we played hard," Kyle Calder said.
Yawney also credited his team for its strong showing:
"It was one of those games when it went off the post, off the crossbar."