Off the heels of a heartbreaking overtime loss in Game 4 at Joe Louis Arena, the Detroit Red Wings and Tampa Bay Lightning both traveled to Tampa and Amalie Arena for Game 5 of their Eastern Conference first-round series. Despite some streches of the Lightning dominating possession and scoring chances, the Red Wings kept Steven Stamkos and "The Triplets" off the board for the second time in three games.
I had flashbacks to Game 1 with the way this game started. Tampa Bay absolutely dominated the game early, getting lots of shots on Petr Mrazek and generally taking possession and the game to the Red Wings. Whenever Detroit tried to generate anything, passes went nowhere, into skates, or glanced off heels of sticks.
Once Detroit survived the initial onslaught from the Lightning, the Red Wings took over. Here's how much they took over:
#tblightning have gone 19 minutes, 18 seconds without a shot on goal . . . and counting— Erik Erlendsson (@erlendssonTBO) April 25, 2015
That was tweeted out during the second period.
The first period would not end scoreless, however. Ondrej Palat took the Lightning's second hooking penalty of the period. On the ensuing power play, a great battle behind the Lightning net ended with Gustav Nyquist taking the puck above the goal line, finding Henrik Zetterberg in the circle to Ben Bishop's right, then Niklas Kronwall at the point, and finally to Riley Sheahan for the one-timer and the 1-0 lead with 23 seconds left in the first.
Detroit continued their run of stifling neutral zone play, getting in every lane and frustrating Tampa's ability to generate anything off the rush. The few times the Lightning were able to gain the zone, the Red Wings were in great position to deal with potential shots and attempted passes.
Tampa Bay finally started generating chances as the period started winding down. Still, they couldn't capitalize. Then with under five minutes left, Jonathan Ericsson received a pass from behind his own net and fired a great breakout pass that Luke Glendening caught in stride as he carried into the zone on the right side. As his shooting angle got tighter, he shot off Bishop, leaving a great rebound for Drew Miller to poke home for a 2-0 Detroit lead. That lead would stand into the second intermission for the second straight game.
In almost a carbon-copy fashion from the first, Tampa Bay came out gangbusters in the third, obviously desperate to come back in this game and avoid being one more loss from elimination. The Lightning also had a couple chances on the power play which made for some nerve-wracking moments, but Mrazek came up huge and the 2-0 lead stood.
On a loose puck in the corner, Stamkos, Justin Abdelkader, and Jason Garrison went after it. Stamkos hooked Abdelkader, making him lose his balance. With reckless abandon, Garrison left his feet for a hit that left Abdelkader lying on the ice.
Hilariously, there was a penalty call, but it was for the original hook on Stamkos. No matter, a power play is a power play, and noted Communist Pavel Datsyuk took a puck from the high slot and fired top corner with Darren Helm providing the screen for the dagger, some retribution, and a 3-0 lead. Danny DeKeyser iced the game with an empty-netter, and noted puppy-hater Mrazek got his second shutout of the series.
- I'll say it again: Petr Mrazek got his second shutout of the series in this game. Twenty-eight saves, some of them of the huge variety, and were it not for a Luke Glendening injury, he could conceivably have shut out the Lightning in three straight games. Still, two out of three ain't bad, and a 3-2 series lead is a very nice thing to have.
- I honestly couldn't tell if head coach Mike Babcock intentionally shuffled the lines to mess with Jon Cooper's desired matchups or if he had to deal with players missing time during the game, but the lines were shuffled for some stretches before ending with the lineup expected once Abdelkader returned to the lineup. Glendening also looked no worse for wear after the scare in Game 4 that made him potentially doubtful for this Game 5.
- Even if the Red Wings got their mojo back with Glendening, this is still a statement game about this team's maturity. After last season where one goal would very easily deflate this team, the Red Wings told the momentum theory to suck it after the way they lost Game 4. Detroit put on a shot-suppression clinic tonight, getting in lanes and stifling Tampa Bay in the neutral zone.
- Zetterberg had an assist and Datsyuk had a goal. It's amazing how the Red Wings have put up goals without those two dominating the games, but the Eurotwins still have something left in the tank. Both made smart plays with the puck in all zones, and while they don't have their younger legs to help them move around the ice, this team still needs them. Captain Obvious, but don't let their lack of expected presence on the scoresheet diminish their contributions.
- Ericsson had a weird game but still somehow got good results. His breakout pass, his inability to handle the puck at times, some bad decisions, and some bad timing could have sunken this team thanks to his performance, but he managed to overcome some of these mistakes with the help of his teammates and still managed to play a solid game.
- Landon Ferraro. I've been quiet about him for a lot of this series, but he's getting results. He's putting his wheels to good use, and I'll be damned if that somehow isn't a perfect line with Glendening and Miller. Now if only they could capitalize on the millions of odd-man rush chances that line creates.
One more. At home. Game 6 on Monday. Finish the job.