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Burns: 3 Things from sweeping the Red Wings

Lightning beat writer Bryan Burns recaps the Bolts 5-3 win over Detroit

by Bryan Burns / TampaBayLightning.com

For the first time in franchise history, the Tampa Bay Lightning swept a regular season series from the Detroit Red Wings.

Even dating back to the seasons the Lightning and the Red Wings played just once or twice, the Lightning were never able to win every game in a single season. The closest they came was in 2003-04 when they tied the Red Wings in their lone meeting. In 2013-14, the Lightning won four of five. A year later, they won three of four.

But never every game.

That is, until Thursday night.

Tampa Bay finished 5-0-0 against Detroit in 2016-17 following a 5-3 victory at AMALIE Arena. The Lightning spotted Detroit a one-goal lead before scoring three times in the second period, including twice on the power play, to take control.

With the win, the Lightning keep pace with Boston and Toronto in the race for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, both the Bruins and Maple Leafs also winning Thursday.

Tampa Bay defeated Detroit despite dealing with a number of setbacks, which we'll detail in 3 Things we learned from sweeping the Red Wings.

Video: DET@TBL: Brown beats Mrazek over the glove

1. SECONDARY SCORING

With the announcement before the game Nikita Kucherov was sick and wouldn't play versus Detroit, the Lightning were without their top offensive producer and the NHL's leading scorer since February 21.

Steven Stamkos and Tyler Johnson are getting healthier and nearing a return, but neither were available to play on Thursday either.

The Bolts had to play down a forward against Detroit because there were no more healthy players left on the roster.

Kucherov's illness combined with the continued absences of Stamkos and Johnson figured to be a major obstacle for the Bolts' offense to overcome.

The Lightning, though, were able to fill in with secondary scoring from players who don't normally find the score sheet. With Tampa Bay trailing 1-0, J.T. Brown netted just his third goal of the season and first since a November 14 game versus the New York Islanders to level the score 1-1.

In the second period with the game still tied, Andrej Sustr found the back of the net, rebounding a saved shot past Detroit goaltender Petr Mrazek.

"It's nice to see them get rewarded," Lightning forward Alex Killorn, who scored himself on Thursday for his 18th goal of the season. "I think, for Brownie, I think he said it was 46 games (without a goal). It's always nice. Those guys do so much more than scoring for us. When they can get a goal and they can chip in, it's huge. It's nice. You really like to see those guys get rewarded because they do so much, other things, blocking shots. Brownie got a fight tonight, huge lift for this team. Whenever they score it's great."

Later in the game with the Lightning enjoying a 4-2 lead, Yanni Gourde followed Ondrej Palat's deflected shot and beat Mrazek to push the Bolts' lead to three goals. Gourde, playing just his 16th career NHL game, has now scored in consecutive games for the first time in his career.

"It was just a team effort, that one," Lightning head coach Jon Cooper said. "Everybody contributed in every way and when we needed the saves, Vasy was there to make them."

 Video: DET@TBL: Drouin cuts through defense, nets a PPG

2. POWER SURGE
The Lightning power play hasn't generated as many headlines of late as the Bolts have found other ways to score and aren't relying as heavily on the special teams unit to produce goals.

But of late, the power play has been a big factor in Tampa Bay's current four-game win streak.

On Thursday, the Lightning scored on both of their power-play opportunities to turn a tie game into a two-goal advantage going into the second intermission.

The power-play goals came 1:51 apart. Killorn benefitted from an unfortunate bounce for Detroit's Danny DeKeyser to put the Lightning back in the lead. The Bolts winger sent a shot from the left circle that Detroit goalie Petr Mrazek blocked high into the air. DeKeyser tried to sweep the puck away once it hit the ground, but ended up knocking it into his own net.

Less than two minutes later, Drouin stickhandled his way through the entire Detroit penalty kill to get open space then unleashed a pinpoint accurate shot past Mrazek from the right circle to the far post to put the Lightning up 4-2.

Even without Kucherov, the NHL's leading power-play goal scorer, the Lightning still managed to dominate special teams against Detroit.

"The power plays get shuffled around a little bit, but we won that war," Cooper said. "I know they got one, but we ended up getting two on that one."

During their four-game win streak, the Lightning have scored six power-play goals on 14 opportunities.

That kind of production bodes well for the Bolts over the final six games of the regular season.

 Video: DET@TBL: Lightning net PPG on DeKeyser's miscue

3. COMEBACK KIDS
For the fourth-straight game, the Lightning surrendered the opening goal only to rally and win.

A week ago in Boston, Tampa Bay rallied from a one-goal deficit three separate times before finally pulling away. A night later, the Lightning overcame a 1-0 deficit in Detroit to win 2-1 in overtime.

The Bolts produced one of their greatest comebacks in club history on Monday when they fell behind 4-1 to Western Conference-leading Chicago but scored three-consecutive goals in the second period and eventually pulled ahead to win in overtime.

And again on Thursday, the Lightning found themselves behind five minutes into the game when Frans Nielsen got alone in front of goal and one-timed a shot past Andrei Vasilevskiy. The deficit didn't seem to deter the Bolts, thought. Instead, they were galvanized by the challenge.

"We've fallen behind in some of these games," Cooper said. "That's kind of the kicker for me. It's just, 'Who's up? Next shift, next shift.' They're just doing all the little things you have to do to win hockey games. Ultimately, they're playing as a team and especially with some of the fire power we have out of the lineup, guys are taking it as a challenge. To sit here and say, we lost our guy, but is that going to define our team? By no means do we want to go long stretches like this, but, for one night, the boys were unreal."

The Bolts are 19-20-7 when their opponent scores first, the 19 wins tied with Pittsburgh and Philadelphia for most in the NHL.

"I think it shows the resiliency," Killorn said. "That Chicago game was great to come back, but tonight it was another great game coming back. We have to put ourselves in some better situations though. I think coming down the stretch, going down against some of these teams is not what we want. We have to have better starts, but I think throughout the game we've shown resiliency. We've played pretty good hockey so we made up for those decent starts."

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