Same old song and dance?
You’ve got to go all the way back to November of 2015 to find the last time the Red Wings defeated the Lightning. A 2-1 victory at the Joe in which Dylan Larkin provided the winner in the third. Can the Wings snap one streak while building on their back-to-back wins?
Tonight’s tilt in Tampa marked the opening of the team’s annual dad’s trip which will also touchdown in Nashville before returning home. The dad’s trip has been fortuitous for the Wings in the past having gone a perfect 4-0 since 2015. In 2016 Detroit flipped the script for a mom’s trip which resulted in two losses in Florida. (Maybe that’s why the dad’s are back?)
In the beginning...
Solid first shift from the 8-51-43 combination to open the contest, kept the puck in Lightning zone off of a torrid attack.
A great opportunity presented itself in the form of an early power play which was squandered by an anemic Red Wings special teams. Steven Stamkos stepped out of the box as the penalty expired and on a transition play was found all alone backdoor on the weak-side by Victor Hedman for a tap-in. 1-0 Bolts.
Victor Hedman delivers a perfect pass to Steven Stamkos, who scores to put the @TBLightning ahead early on the visiting Red Wings. Watch all of tonight's action live now on FOX Sports Sun! #GoBolts pic.twitter.com/OOUTzSaWgS— FOX Sports Florida (@FOXSportsFL) February 16, 2018
The second penalty of the game went against Big Tony (Anthony Mantha) and Red Wings. The Lightning did an apt job of zipping the puck around the zone of off their initial set-up. After the Wings were able to clear the zone once Nikita Kucherov picked the puck up from his own end, starting the play and ending it with this beautiful snap finish. 2-0 Tampa.
Another great shift for the Wings “checking unit with just over 250 ticks left in the opening frame, great puck movement again around the zone and a hard driven slapshot opportunity for Trevor Daley from the point.
The Wings will start the second frame with 43 seconds of bled over power play time stemming from the Brayden Coburn tripping minor.
Verdict: Lots of quality action highlighted a fun period to watch, for a Tampa fan... All joking aside it wasn’t that awful of a period for Detroit as they did have some offensive opportunities even if most of them came from the perimeter. On the bright side there are 40 more minutes to try and tie this contest up.
As is usually the case with half-ish power plays to begin periods, the 43 ticks of man advantage time to commence the second frame were not to be capitalized upon by the Wings.
However, Detroit has kept up an aggressive forecheck throughout the first five minutes of play here in the middle stanza. But, as has been the story so far tonight the best opportunity in the early goings of the period went to Kucherov, who was stuffed on a breakaway by Jimmy Howard.
The Red Wings have done a great job of setting up pressure in the offensive zone, but haven’t been able to penetrate the slot with any sort of consistency. Tampa has done a brilliant job of boxing out Wings skaters from any rebound attempts that haven’t been swallowed up by Andre Vasilevskiy.
Larkin returned the the favor (via shorthanded opportunities) in the latter half of the middle frame while killing one of Detroit’s two second period penalties. He zipped a perfect slot bound pass to Daley on a 2-on-1, which Vasilevskiy easily snared into his lightning shaped crest.
The cherry to top the second; with under two minutes to go, Anthony Mantha in the box for interference, why wouldn’t Steven Stamkos smack in a wide open back door offering to put the Lightning up 3-0?
I stand corrected! Tomas Tatar floats a lofty wrister on net from the point while up a man with only 31 ticks remaining in the frame, Vasilevskiy tries to fight the puck off but with Justin Abdelkader providing a Tomas Holmstrom-esque screen front of him on the lip of the crease the puck trickles it’s way into the cage, THEY’RE WITHIN TWO. Lightning 3 - Red Wings 1.
Verdict: 39=and-a-half minutes of Andrei Vasilevskiy denying any hope Detroit had of getting into this game were broken in the dying moments of the second. If the late PP marker has breathed new confidence into this Red Wings squad this third period could get quite intriguing considering how wide open the contest has been.
The wheels came off any comeback attempt early, Alex Killorn made sure of that. Brayden Point caused a defensive zone turnover, and turned up ice hitting Kucherov in stride. Kucherov crept in the Wings zone slowly eventually dropping a pass in the slot to Killorn who shelved a quick backhander roof over Howard for his 11th, 4-1 for the home team.
Halfway through the third it’s impressive to see the Wings still driving the zone hard, moving their legs and keeping the compete level high even with this game all but out of reach at 4-1. They haven’t played a poor game, Tampa is simply a superior team, and it has shown throughout tonight’s contest.
At the five minute mark the Lightning go on to show it again Stamkos, Tyler Johnson, and Yanni Gourde worked the puck around effortlessly for the duration of their shift, occasionally kicking it up to the point to Hedman, before Howard was forced to make one of his 28 saves on the night.
Verdict: As I stated before, the Lightning are simply the better of the two teams currently and it was on display tonight. They kept the Wings to the perimeter for the majority of the contest which led the final 4-1. There were some bright spots for the Wings who kept battling until the very end including a solid outing from the 39-40-14 line.
Which Wing best displayed their potential trade value tonight?
This poll is closed
Other (please comment below)