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Burns: 3 Things from a win in the Motor City

Lightning beat writer Bryan Burns recaps the Bolts 4-3 win over the Red Wings

by Bryan Burns /

The Tampa Bay Lightning entered their road game at Detroit having won seven of their last eight over the Red Wing, including last season's five-game Eastern Conference Quarterfinal playoff series.

The Lightning continued their recent mastery over the Red Wings on Tuesday.

The Bolts built a 2-0 lead in the first period for a second-straight game, continuing their recent trend of solid opening-period play. Detroit fought back to tie 3-3 in the third period on a pair of power-play goals, but Nikita Kucherov netted the game-winner with 1:10 to go, his second goal of the night and third point.

The Bolts-Wings rivalry has ratcheted up a few notches over the last couple seasons, due mainly to their epic first-round playoff battles the last two season. Tuesday's game left both teams bloodied and bruised, although the Lightning might have ended up receiving the majority of the punishment. Steven Stamkos, Braydon Coburn and Cedric Paquette all hobbled off the ice and went to the locker room during the action. Coburn and Paquette eventually returned.

Stamkos did not, a tremendous concern for the Lightning.

The Lightning won both halves of a back-to-back set following Monday's 4-1 win in Brooklyn and Tuesday's 4-3 victory over the Wings.

How did the Bolts do it?

We'll recap the satisfying victory with 3 Things we learned from another win in Detroit.

Video: TBL@DET: Kucherov nets his second goal for late lead1. IN THE NIK OF TIME
Lightning right wing Nikita Kucherov didn't report to training camp immediately after his stint with Team Russia at the World Cup of Hockey 2016 while he awaited a new contract with Tampa Bay.

Two days before opening night, Kucherov and the Lightning finally agreed to a deal, the Russian winger signing a three-year contract worth $4.766 million annually.

Safe to say, the time missed during training camp has had exactly zero effect on Kucherov's performance in 2016-17.

Kucherov, who entered Tuesday's game tied for fifth in the NHL for scoring, tacked on three more points to his total, giving him 21 points (8 goals, 13 assists) through 16 games (Kucherov missed a game to injury), his highest point total through 16 games in his career (previous high: 14 points in 2014-15).

Kucherov provided the Bolts with the opening goal early in the first period, stealing the puck from Detroit goalie Petr Mrazek behind the Wings' net and depositing it into the goal before Mrazek could recover.

Later, with the Lightning reeling having let Detroit back in the game behind consecutive power-play goals to tie it 3-3, Kucherov again came to the rescue. Braydon Coburn's shot produced a rebound out wide to the left circle, and Kucherov pounced on the fortuitous bounce to send a second shot past Mrazek.

Kucherov also had an assist on Stamkos' first-period goal. He has scored multiple points in two-straight games and five games overall this season.

With Stamkos on the shelf for much of the game, the Lightning's burgeoning superstar needed to rise to the occasion. Kucherov's response provided the Lightning with two critical points in the Atlantic Division race and has them off to a great start on their current road trip with two wins in two games.

Video: TBL@DET: Stamkos leaves game with apparent injury2. INJURIES PILING UP

Speaking of Stamkos, the Lightning were without their captain for much of the game when he got up off the ice from a hit on a mid-first period penalty kill and immediately winced as he rose to his feet.

Stamkos skated slowly off the ice and was examined by head athletic trainer Tommy Mulligan as he sat on the bench. Seconds later, Stamkos got up and walked gingerly down the tunnel to the locker room, where he would remain for the rest of the game.

As the second period started, the Lightning announced Stamkos was out with a lower-body injury, a significant blow considering Stamkos, entering Tuesday, was tied for third in the NHL for scoring,, tied for seventh in the league for goals and had already netted a goal against the Red Wings.

Add Stamkos to a mounting list of injured Bolts.

Jonathan Drouin has been out since November 1 with an upper-body injury.

Anton Stralman was out for a second-straight game, also because of an upper-body injury.

Both Drouin and Stralman are considered day-to-day and could return at some point on the Bolts' current road trip.

Stamkos status is a bit more unknown.

Bolts fans will keep their fingers crossed Stamkos can make a quick recovery as the loss of their captain and leading scorer will surely be a big blow for the Lightning to deal with.

Video: TBL@DET: Nesterov blasts power-play goal past Mrazek3. RESILIENCE ON DISPLAY YET AGAIN

After falling behind 2-0, Detroit made a point to turn up the physicality against the Lightning to try to get back in the game.

The strategy worked against a Bolts' team playing the second half of a back-to-back set and undoubtedly wearing down as the game progressed.

Justin Abdelkader played his familiar agitator role, getting in several scuffles with Lightning players, although not all were beneficial as his roughing penalty on Alex Killorn at the end of the second period led to the Bolts' third goal.

Steve Ott delivered a vicious hit to Cedric Paquette behind the Bolts' goal that took the center out of the game for a shift or two. Detroit dished out 23 hits in all, a night after the Bolts sustained 27 hits at the hands of the Islanders.

The Lightning were punished at times by Detroit on Tuesday.

But losing to the Red Wings after holding a 3-1 lead would have been even more damaging.

Detroit held all of the momentum after scoring consecutive power-play goals in quick succession to level the score 3-3 with over half of the third period left to play.

The Lightning began the third period trying to close out a victory or two points. Ten minutes into the third, they were in danger of coming away empty handed.

The Bolts turned to their bruiser line, though, to right themselves, Paquette, Brian Boyle and J.T. Brown dishing out some abuse of their own to slow down the Wings and stem the tide.

And with the game looking more and more like it would have to be settled in overtime or a shootout, Kucherov provided the final bullet to finally finish off the Wings.

Yes, losing a two-goal lead in the final period is a concern for the Bolts. But withstanding the Wings' final push and responding with the game-winner showed the resilience this Tampa Bay team always seems to find when it needs it most. 

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