The exciting heat of the early going was a rangy 4-on-4 thanks to Corey Perry (of course) and Robby Fabbri taking penalties within 30 seconds of each other. The Wings were the better looking of the two squads and parlayed the momentum into dominance for most of the first half of the period.
Unfortunately, the Lightning would draw first blood when Brayden Point would get a breakaway thanks to a nice tic-tac-toe breakout that left three Wings in the dust. Point would make no mistake burying the puck past Husso, 1-0 Lightning.
RU KIDDING ME, POINTER?!?! pic.twitter.com/hAMwV5VrEw— Andrei Vasilevskiy Fan Account (@TBLightning) February 26, 2023
The goal took a little of the swagger out of Detroit’s game, which is a bummer. They were really dominating Tampa for about five minutes, with special shout out to the 4th line and Joe Veleno in particular. Despite looking more dangerous, It took Tampa nearly five minutes to register another shot on net. Unfortunately, Tampa got much tighter defensively over the stretch, too, sealing up a lot of the high-danger chances they were allowing the Wings earlier in the first.
Kucherov nearly put Tampa up by two thanks to a great feed from Hedman. He had Husso beat, but not the crossbar. Perron very nearly connected with Bertuzzi on Vasilevskiy’s doorstep moments later, but Bertuzzi just couldn’t elevate the puck enough to get the equalizer. Great sprawling stop by the Tampa netminder, to his credit.
And that’s the way the period closed out. Could have been 2-0 Tampa, but it could also be 2-1 Detroit right now, too, with the way they played.
Score: 1-0 Tampa
Shots: 12-9 Detroit
Stand Ups: Veleno, Perron, Crossbar
Sit Downs: Gotta raise the roof with that shot, Bert! Also, Sundqvist =(
Oh, great, Michael Rasmussen is out for the game because of a blocked shot in the first. Took a Bogosian slapper to the inside of the knee. Cool.
The Wings went hard to open the period. Six shots in the first minute thanks to the Larkin line and the Walman/Seider pairing. Tampa’s first opportunity would come to a three-on-one against Seider, but Mo broke the play up with a diving move like a pro.
Over five minutes would expire in the period and Tampa still wouldn’t have registered a shot. The refs would feel bad for them, though, and send Mo to the box because a Tampa stick tripped Kucherov and Seider happened to be nearby.
Detroit would be the only team to register shots on Tampa’s power play, though. Walman and Perron each had great shots, and Suter was exceptional on the PK.
Detroit just. Couldn’t. Buy. A. Goal. Repeated chance after chance and Vasilevskiy just turned away everything. Objectively, I couldn’t help but admire the great goalie performance. All the same, I get this rising anxiety with the Wings where I’m afraid they will run out of gas if they don’t score when they’re controlling play. The 2022-23 Wings don’t seem to have that issue of flagging confidence should they not score when controlling play, but I’m still a little traumatized over the last several seasons. And to Tampa’s credit, while they were giving Detroit chances, those chances mostly B-quality.
Detroit would finally get on the power play when none other than former Wing Vlad Namestnikov roughed Suter. Kubalik would get the best opportunity, but as Mickey bemoaned, Vasilevskiy was seeing too many of the shots. Berggren would have had a goal there, too, but Bogosian got a stick down to break up the cross-crease pass.
Instead Tampa would score a goal with seven seconds left in the period on a broken play from an odd-man rush. 2-0 Tampa.
Brayden Point and Nikita Kucherov.— Andrei Vasilevskiy Fan Account (@TBLightning) February 26, 2023
Name a better duo. You can't. pic.twitter.com/n8csjzEwDN
Score: 2-0 Tampa
Shots: 31-12 Detroit
Stand Ups: Pretty much everybody until the final ten seconds.
Sit Downs: Puck luck
The third period started like the previous two. Larkin nearly scored on Vasilevskiy’s 5-hole, but overall Tampa continued to just have all five collapse around their goalie. I really started to miss Rasmussen at this point. Detroit really needed someone big to plant in front of the Tampa net, and Ras is the best guy on the roster at that job.
Larkin's dead stare at Vasilevskiy tells you all you need to know about how tonight has gone for Detroit. #LGRW pic.twitter.com/AyQgz1ZSgx— Ryan Hana (@RyanHanaWWP) February 26, 2023
Detroit would go to the power play early as Ross Colton interfered with Sundquist off an early draw. Larkin with nearly another goal off a good deflection, but Vasy gloved the puck. Power play over.
Zadina and Suter also with great opportunities, and there are still 15 minutes left in the period.
Cal Foote would get sent to the box for mugging Fabbri, but the refs would only call it after Fabbri lost a helmet. Bad start to it, though. Detroit probably should have gone to a 5-on-3 because of a hold along the boards, but it’s no go. Tampa was getting exhausted, but Detroit wouldn’t register a shot on the man advantage.
With five minutes remaining both teams looked out of gas. I really disliked the reffing standard late in the game, as Tampa got dirtier, probably from exhaustion by being pinned in their own zone, but all the same, there were a plethora of calls that went to the wayside.
The Wings pulled Husso with just over three minutes to go. Killorn would get the empty netter, though, 3-0 Lightning.
Score: 3-0 Tampa
Shots: 45-18 Detroit
Stand Ups: Larkin was hands down the best skater tonight
Sit Downs: Having a game stolen by the best goalie in the league
These losses happen sometimes. But man, it sucks to watch. It really sucks. What a great game by Vasilevskiy, but a number of Wings were excellent as well. Larkin would have had a hat trick tonight against a league-average goalie. Heck, I think Detroit would have won 6-2 against most other goalies. Walman and Seider played great, Veleno and Zadina were solid, Suter and Copp were great on the PK, the list goes on and on.
Tonight's #LGRW game recap:— Ryan Hana (@RyanHanaWWP) February 26, 2023
- Red Wings played great, but Vasilevskiy had other plans pic.twitter.com/DEJD4DocSP
Hopefully Detroit has this same, well, let’s not under sell it– the same blood lust against Ottawa this week. Despite the result, there are still plenty of reasons to be optimistic.