What happens when you put the NHL’s best team against one of the NHL’s worst teams? Well, you tell me.
Just kidding, you don’t need to tell me. I knew what was going to happen well before I even started writing this.. But, honestly, while the Red Wings never held a lead against Saturday night’s tilt with the Tampa Bay Lightning, it somehow felt close, and it’s all thanks to Jonathan Bernier.
To put it simply, the game began pretty much how we all expected it to — Tampa’s offense surged with two unanswered goals. Jonathan Bernier was a bit of a victim of having no idea where the puck was on both plays, but the second goal, coming from Nikita Kucherov, was overall bad coverage by Andreas Athanasiou and Anthony Mantha. Kucherov found the puck point blank in front of the net. Honestly, I’m not sure there’s a better goal-scorer outside of Alexander Ovechkin. With that goal, he became the single-season scoring leader for the Tampa Bay Lightning, passing Vincent Lecavalier.
The middle frame was kind to the Red Wings, and when I say that, it’s because they saw a lot of time on the power-play, and the Lightning did not manage to notch another goal. I wouldn’t say that there was much to write home about for the Red Wings’ power-play, but the team did manage to finally get on the board. Thomas Vanek, if you can believe it, notched his 13th goal of the season on the power-play. More importantly, Filip Zadina picked up his 1st NHL assist, and his 2nd NHL point on the tally:
Remember Steven Stamkos? Wasn’t he supposed to be a Red Wing? lmao, no.
Anyway, he scored a goal that tied him with Vincent Lecavalier as franchise-leader, but it was called back. Jeff Blashill challenged the play for offsides, and hey, can you believe it, he was right. At this point in the game, it’s clear that Jonathan Bernier is our player of the game. In fact, I believe this may be one of the best games of his career. Bernier had a handful of spectacular saves, which kept the team in the mix against one of the best in the league.
Now, if you can believe it, Nikita Kucherov managed to pick up another goal. Yes, he scored his 110th point of the season, and it only took him 69 games (nice, but not really). The Red Wings made their late-game push with Bernier pulled. They even managed to score again to keep it close. Anthony Mantha picking up his 17th goal on the season, Niklas Kronwall is the notable on this play, because he picked up his second assist of the night.
Unfortunately, that wasn’t enough to put the NHL’s best team away. BUT, if you can believe it, the Red Wings only lost by a goal. Wait, WHAT?
Okay, we lost 3-2. To the best team in the league. Whatever.
Moving on — Detroit has a late afternoon game against the Florida Panthers Sunday. If you were wondering, Filip Zadina has three more games before he will be sent back to Grand Rapids. Soak it in while you can.