There were some similarities between this victory, which clinched the first round series for the Lightning, and their other three wins in the series. In all four of their triumphs, the Lightning broke a tie in the third period by scoring the eventual game-winning goal. And in all five games, including their Game Three loss, the Lightning penalty killers did a terrific job – they killed 24 of 25 Detroit power plays in the series.
But Game Five also differed from the earlier Lightning wins. This was the Ben Bishop show. It’s true that Bishop played very well throughout the series – and in their three other wins, the Lightning needed Bishop to make key saves at crucial points. But the Lightning also played well in the Game One, Two and Four wins. They didn’t play well tonight. Instead, they needed Bishop to steal it. And he did, keeping the game scoreless until Alex Killorn netted the only tally of the game late in the third period.
Through the first four games, Game Three was the Lightning’s worst in the series. Their biggest issue in that contest was that they were unable to match Detroit’s compete level. That wasn’t the cause of their problems in Game Five, though. Instead, their execution was off. They committed numerous turnovers in all three zones. They had trouble making tape-to-tape passes. And they were guilty of being “too cute” with pucks. But when the Red Wings looked to capitalize on those mistakes, Bishop denied them. He made saves on close range shots, tipped shots and rebounds. In the second period alone, he stopped four separate breakaways, including two while the Lightning were on the power play. Simply put, if Bishop wasn’t on top of his game tonight, the Lightning would be preparing for a Game Six on Sunday in Detroit.
But thanks to Bishop, the Red Wings were kept off the board. The Lightning shuffled their lines to start the third and the switch seemed to help. While it wasn’t a dominant period for the Lightning, the third period was their best of the game. They had more sustained offensive zone pressure and surrendered fewer scoring chances. They finally broke through with just under two minutes left in the third. Petr Mrazek came out of his crease to play the puck behind the net. He passed it toward Jonathan Ericsson in the corner. But Ryan Callahan, who had initially dumped the puck in, charged after it and stole the puck before it reached Ericsson. He quickly slid it in front to Killorn, who slipped it in the net on his backhand before Mrazek could get back in position.
The Lightning got through another penalty kill in the final 44 seconds to preserve the win. The Wings pulled Mrazek and had a six-on-four advantage. But as they did 23 times earlier in the series, the Lightning killed it off. And that was another key component to the Game Five win. The Bolts killed off four penalties in the game, including a Detroit five-on-three power play early in the game that lasted 1:14.
The Lightning played much of the second period without Tyler Johnson, who apparently was battling an illness. The Bolts will now get some time to rest and heal, as they await the start of the second round.
Before the next series begins, I’ll have a full recap of this first round series triumph. Look for it early next week.
Lightning Radio Big Moment of the Game (as selected by Phil Esposito):
Bishop’s key saves, particularly those four breakaway stops in the second period.
Lightning Radio Three Stars of the Game (as selected by Phil Esposito):
1.Ben Bishop – Lightning. 34-save shutout.
2.Ryan Callahan – Lightning. Assist. Big part of penalty kill.
3.Jason Garrison – Lightning. Team-high five shots.