Dropping games in Florida is no recent feat for the Red Wings, who lost both of their Sunrise matchups against the Panthers earlier and now head to Tampa for the colossus of the Central in back-to-back weekend afternoon tilts.
Svech cleared and was taxi’d. We’ve got Filppula and Nielsen manning the third line. Woof.
Tampa dressed appropriately for a funeral too.
The Bolts jump out with a quick scoring chance, but Luke Schenn falls at our blue line and sends the Wings on an odd-man chance from Darren Helm that Luke Glendening puts into Andrei Vasilevskiy’s chest before the Bolts knock their own net off its pegs. Tampa starts building the momentum from there and takes just over four minutes to open the scoring as the fourth line gets collapsed and then nobody can beat Ross Colton to a rebound in front that he scoops over a diving Greiss to make it 1-0 Lightning.
Tampa pushes hard on the next shift as well, but finishes with Givani Smith and Anthony Mantha heading the other way for a chance that the Tampa Goalie kicks aside.
Three minutes later Brayden Point makes it 2-0 Tampa on a well-structured zone entry where Mantha doesn’t recognize a stop-up play by Marc Staal means he needs to track Point and he gets open for a pass that hits his stick as he crosses below the dot for an easy put-away.
The next thing resembling a chance for Detroit is Val Filppula and Vlad Namestnikov getting a break and predictably try to pass the puck back and forth forever while hoping it eventually finds its way into the net without having to take a shot (this goes as-expected).
By this point, the Bolts are basically daring Detroit to get odd-man rushes because they seem as sure as I am that these risks are more likely to pay off than to cost them. Several passes go directly under the blades of Red Wings’ sticks in the zone and by the time Detroit has the puck back they’re all too-collapsed to do anything useful with it.
Detroit takes a too-many men penalty at 13:38. Helm breaks on the faceoff but Hedman who is directly behind him somehow manages not to hook while preventing a shot. Tampa spends the remainder of the PP in the Wings’ zone creating chances, but not scoring.
The next power play goes to Detroit as Ryan McDonagh goes for hooking Givani Smith. The Red Wings’ power play looks like a kindergarten class filling in for Cirque du Soleil.
Darren Helm takes a tripping penalty with five seconds left. I sadly remove his name from the very short list of players who looked ok in the first 20 minutes.
The Score: 2-0 Lightning
The Shots: 14-7 Lightning
Standout Players: Filip Zadina
Sit-in Players: Anthony Mantha, Danny DeKeyser, Dylan Larkin, Vlad Namestnikov
The Period All Summed up: I think Tampa might be better than Detroit.
Detroit starts the period with 1:55 of penalty to kill off. The killers do a good job on this one. Just for fun, the Wings get their top line out and then immediately start playing like they’re shorthanded again.
We get into the first TV timeout with no additional scoring and somehow the last puck-freeze was Vasilevskiy but this period has been all Tampa through the first chunk. Coming out of the break, the Wings get some in-zone time. Adam Erne has a really good shift cycling the puck and the Wings force Vasilevskiy to make some saves.
For the most part, this middle part is trading cycles with a few dangerous chances from both sides. There’s not a ton of transition game going for either club, as most of the scares come from forechecks. Vasilevskiy is working harder than Greiss for this part of the game (but Detroit still trails in shots).
4:02 left in the period, Erne sits for a check to the head delivered on Cal Foote. I don’t think this is actually to the head, but the angle Erne took on a player who was in a vulnerable position to make a hit I think was late (not that the NHL agrees), I think this is a penalty that’s called the wrong thing, not a thing that was wrongly called a penalty.
Detroit kills 1:55 of this penalty before Frans Nielsen eats a high stick from Yanni Gourde and cancels the rest of the advantage. Detroit gets on the PP themselves. It takes a while to get set up but does get a couple dangerous looks before ultimately failing. Mantha feeds Fabbri for a last-second chance that gets blocked and we go to the break.
The Score: 2-0 Bolts
The Shots: 20-14 Bolts
Standout Players: Zadina, Helm
Sit-in Players: Mantha, Nemeth, Staal, Fabbri
The Period All Summed up: Detroit played much better but Tampa has time on their side with the 2-0 lead.
Tampa pushes hard out of the gate for the start of this period, pinning the Wings for the first two minutes. Detroit starts pushing back and at exactly the four-minute mark, they get rewarded on a behind-the-net scrum that Frans Nielsen feeds to Adam Erne in front. Erne gets stoned initially, but gets it back and wraps it around the outstretched leg of Andrei Vasilevskiy to make it 2-1 Tampa.
That’s Adam Erne’s eighth of the season.
Apparently Tampa is embarrassed by allowing a goal and they start playing “with an edge” (you know, dirt-rat shit). Coleman face-washes and punches Larkin on a harmless net-front play and Sergachev headlocks him for grimacing about it.
12:11 left and Greiss makes probably the biggest save in a series of them he’s had to make since the Erne goal, kicking out a leg on a net-front chance by Tampa’s fourth line. On a quick counter shortly after, Namestnikov feeds Filppula on a back door play that looks a bit like the Point goal from the first period and Vasilevskiy reaches over to make a big save on a shot I joked earlier would never come from that combination.
Detroit starts pushing harder with another scoring chance for Erne stopped and then Mantha combining with Larkin for a rush that just runs out of space to work. This starts a period where Detroit is really pressing well and Tampa is starting to break down. In other words, this is about the time you expect the Bolts to score that dagger third goal.
Greiss comes off with under two to go as the Glendening line passes off zone time to Larkin’s group. The Wings get an in-zone faceoff with 1:35 to go and use the timeout to draw something up. They get two chances to run this play, because they lose the first draw and Tampa immediately ices it.
Fabbri helps Glendening win this one and Zadina blasts a feed that barely misses. Tampa ices again and this one is intriguing.
A six-man unit that only has Hronek as a defenseman gets set up for what is essentially a power play, but the ball of Lightning players clogging up the net-front allow the only real chance to be a tipped wrister that doesn’t find its mark.
The Score: 2-1 Tampa
The Shots: 29-26 Tampa
Standout Players: Stecher, Erne, Zadina
Sit-in Players: Nobody
The Period All Summed up: The Bolts had to be sweating so I guess we can chalk this one up to a “good loss” again.
I was all ready to recap another game just like the 4-1 loss to Florida on Tuesday (the last game I recapped), but I was pleasantly surprised by the push back in the last 40 minutes. Detroit could have easily fallen farther behind to a team that can’t be happy to have just squeaked out this win. We saw a lot of the hints of how this team can look when they’ve got the last of their dirty cylinders cleaned out and can start firing on all of them again.
See you tomorrow.