Alex Killorn became the player of the series as he secured Tampa’s advance in the playoffs at Amalie Arena Thursday. The first line center of the Lightning scored late in the third period that gave his team a 1-0 win over the Detroit Red Wings and a 4-1 win in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals.
Detroit was on the verge of losing once again to the Lightning as they came into Game Five with their Atlantic Divisional foes up 3-1 in the series. They got back home advantage in time to knock out Detroit and move to the next step. In what was a tight game in Detroit on Tuesday, Tampa had a little more in the tank to get a huge goal that gave them a 3-2 win at The Joe. With the Red Wings season on the line, they needed everything to go right or see themselves go out of the first round for third consecutive year.
One key to improve on fast was their power play where they have scored just once on 21 tries this series. Standing in their way for all of the attempts was Ben Bishop who would be in net for his squad. Petr Mrazek was also back in net for a third straight game hoping that his presence will help avoiding a loss and continue the series onward.
The opening minutes of the game had the Red Wings playing stellar defense making the coverage tight and play the puck away from their opponents allowing just one shot through three minutes. They got their offense together with Danny DeKeyser and Dylan Larkin going in on Bishop. More opportunities arrived for Detroit as they earned a 5 on 3 power play due to Tampa’s back to back penalties. While they didn’t do much on the two man advantage the shots on net had Tampa feeling the pressure.
Once the Lightning killed off the penalty, they pushed back on offense with a few scoring chances on Mrazek hoping to be first to score and take point. Detroit had a response with DeKeyser looking to get himself a playoff goal but watched his attempt going off the bar. Their energy to score first wasn’t diminished as they gave it their all in the final minutes of play. Tampa had taken one shot in the last ten minutes. Tampa got one right before they earned a power play where despite having just 28 seconds in the period left they added another to notch eight shots through the first 20 minutes.
Detroit made a jump early in the second pressing into the Tampa zone doing everything to get one behind Bishop. Unfortunately the six foot seven goaltender made the stops on Detroit maintaining his flawless performance through seven minutes. The Red Wings suffered another penalty midway through the second that wasted another two minutes that they’d have to defend on instead.
It wasn’t until the 14th minute of play that they gained their own power play to change the level of dictation that the Lightning had on them with time falling off the clock. Tampa’s defense did so well on the PK before the finished out the last four minutes blocking shots and taking away Detroit’s offensive movements cutting them off before more was done. Detroit outshot Tampa 14-6 but the game still remained scoreless through 40 minutes with Detroit just 20 minutes from the point of what could be their way to take the game or just go home.
The third period became a more strategic time for the teams as each side took their time aiming the puck at the net hoping to get one behind the goalies that were both looking for a postseason shutout as well as the win. Six minutes were in the books with the Lightning outshooting Detroit but just recording four shots so far. The scoring chances were produced slower as the teams were playing the best defense they could against one another as there were seven minutes left in regulation with neither in control of the game. As the game came closer to an end, the shots became more accurate as the Red Wings and Lightning were shooting directly at the goaltender with both making big glove saves in the process.
Tampa took a different approach in the final two minutes as a push from Ryan Callahan had him in possession behind the net of Mrazek. When he got a chance to position the puck back out into the Detroit zone, he found Killorn near the net where the centerman found part of the net open scoring the puck for his third of the playoffs. Tampa gave Detroit one last chance to force overtime and prevent their season to end with a power play with 43.6 seconds left. With six men on for Detroit winning the faceoff was key but a one-timer from Brad Richards did not find its mark.
Pavel Datsyuk who played in his last NHL game went in on the Lightning defense but couldn’t lock in as Bishop picked up the puck with four seconds remaining. The last seconds were Tampa clearing the puck before the horn sounded their series victory. Bishop had the game in his hands yet again where he earned his fourth career postseason shutout stopping 34 shots from the Red Wings.
While they go on to take the winner between the Florida Panthers and the New York Islanders, the Red Wings will decide the future of their veteran center who has been with the team since Detroit won the cup in 2002. Despite losing out on continuing the playoffs. Datsyuk seals a long NHL career with the only team that has him sure to become a hall of fame and for now a true Red Wings legend.