The nightmare was back for the Red Wings as they fell deeper down in defeat. The Lightning’s first line was once again responsible for scoring four on the night that led to their 5-2 beating on Detroit at Amalie Arena Friday night. Tampa’s dominance left them with a 2-0 lead in the Eastern Conference quarterfinal.
The Red Wings had an up and down loss in Game One where they had plenty of falls, big goals on net and a mess at the end. For Tampa, it was their first line dominating from beginning to end as they led Tampa to a 3-2 win. With one more game at home before the series moves north, they’ll be eager to get a lead while they have the current advantage. They’ll also want to limit the number of penalties they give despite Detroit’s rough time scoring on the power play. As Ben Bishop’s performance would no doubt be strong in the game, the rookies from Detroit will once again be attacking the tall sized netminder.
They came out quickly gaining some shots on the Tampa net but Bishop and his defense made good attempts clearing the puck. Detroit picked up a chance on 5 on 4 but only got one shots with the Lightning covering the firing lines and blocking chances by Detroit’s best. Jimmy Howard started to see action five minutes in as he dealt with the second offense that produced their only shot on goal so far.
They added more with the Lightning shooting on one timer chances and rebounds but despite coming close to take the lead, Detroit managed to get out of trouble with great screening on the net and Howard tracking the puck. The Red Wings offense pressed into the Lightning zone showing some physical strength along the way. Dylan Larkin got into it sending a shoulder into the face of Jonathan Drouin who wanted a piece of the 19-year-old right after.
The incident pushed both teams to gain momentum during the late stages of the period. Detroit was still holding strong even after they did away with Tampa’s power play. They got into trouble with five minutes left as Detroit gave the Lightning a 5 on 3 man advantage. Nikita Kucherov was on the line and went straight to his attack looking to notch another. It took him two attempts but a one timer on the pass of Victor Hedman gave him his third of the season and the lead with time still on the power play.
The Red Wings were relieved to see the penalty end and knew that a response had to come in the final two and a half minutes. Another offensive attack came where they found a majority of the net open to make a stab at taking a bigger lead. The Red Wings goalie made an important save on the puck that killed off any further scrambles from the defense.
Detroit regained their lead on shots to the net but it was still a difficulty as Bishop used his glove to make most of the saves. In total he made 15 saves against Detroit but the dominated well on the faceoff winning every two of three.
A huge comeback for Larkin came in the second period putting the Red Wings down a man early on. After the Detroit PK unit did work, Larkin came reaching a shot off the boards by Jonathan Ericsson going in all alone on Bishop to score the first postseason of his career tying the game.
Just when it looked like they had things under control the Lightning came back to regain the lead with Brian Boyle scoring on a wrister from the slot marking his first 3:46 after the Red Wings leveled it. The Lightning saw themselves gaining more control on the game as they had possession of the puck well even more when they went on another power play.
A big moment came where Danny DeKeyser laid out Ondrej Palat into the board sending both teams after one another. When officials got things separated, they sent Hedman for unsportsmanlike conduct and Drouin to the box with Detroit’s Riley Sheahan going in for roughing. The teams went 4 on 4 just briefly before the Red Wings gained time on the man advantage. Though it was brief, Tampa successfully killed it but found themselves giving Detroit two minutes with Hedman back in the box.
Good penalty killing from the Lightning got them out of trouble with four minutes left allowing Detroit not a single shot at Bishop. They gained one more chance but despite having the remainder of the penalty to Detroit, they couldn’t level the score at the end of 40 minutes. With the pace of the game having plenty of hits from both teams, the third will be another mayhem on ice with one goal separating the two.
The Red Wings were first to get a power play, as their 0-9 run in the series so far need to get one in. Pavel Datsyuk was on the power play unit as he went missing for near half of the second. Although he was not on the ice during the second shift, the Red Wings tied the game on a great rifle from Brad Richards scoring his first and 37th of his career. The faceoff was a key factor to their returning to level pegging with 15 minutes on the clock.
Datsyuk got back on the ice during an even strength moment but even on a shot by Darren Helm, the veteran Russian couldn’t get to it in time. It was one he wished he had as the Lightning caught Detroit completely off guard with Alex Killorn faked a wraparound behind Howard in net where he instead found Tyler Johnson with an open net to making it 3-2.
It was turning into another nightmare for the Red Wings but they had to figure out a way to recover and equalize the game a third time forcing their opponents into a situation they have seen plenty of. Instead of playing tight on defense and force takeaway, they opened the door once again for Johnson who knocked in his second of the night with 5:12 left. Two minutes of even strength elapsed before Detroit coach Jeff Blashill pulled Howard with three minutes left hoping to record a third goal and play like crazy to save the game.
None of their plans came to light as the Lightning scored on the empty net with Killorn completing the run by Tampa’s first line gaining his second. 2:44 was left in regulation but there was only a surge of physical play that led to a massive fight in the final minute. Mike Blunden and Justin Abdelkader fought it out near the crease after he took a shot at Richards. The three ensued the rest of the teams to get in and create a battle royal sending many off the ice. In total ten players were penalized with Ryan Callahan taking a game misconduct. He had Cedric Paquette joining him while Abdelkader, Alexey Marchenko and Mike Green also took misconduct penalties. After all the penalties were tallied, the Lightning somehow had a power play that ended another rout of Detroit.
With things eerily familiar of the series last season, the Red Wings knew that something had to be done as the series moved to Hockeytown for Game Three Sunday.