One of the most critical moments in this game occurred late in the second period. The Lightning led the Red Wings, but the lead was only a one-goal advantage. That’s because the Wings had rallied from a 3-0 deficit to score back-to-back goals in the second period. But just over a minute after Darren Helm netted Detroit’s second goal, the Red Wings took a pair of penalties 12 seconds apart. Those infractions gave the Lightning a five-on-three power play lasting 1:48. They cashed in. Tyler Johnson set up Nikita Kucherov at the side of the net for a tap-in goal. The Kucherov goal re-established a two-goal lead for the Lightning, who then pulled away with two more tallies in the third. It was a crucial turning point in the game.
But the five-on-three goal wasn’t the only key moment. Another one came in the opening minutes. Erik Condra scored on an in-alone chance at 1:47 to give the Lightning an early lead, one they never relinquished. A third significant play happened early in the third, when Ondrej Palat finished a rebound of a Johnson shot. That score put the Lightning back up by three goals.
In addition to those plays, the Lightning did several things very well in this game. They exhibited a shooting mentality from the onset – they fired 15 first period shots on goal and finished with a game total of 34. They attacked the net, which enabled them to get pucks to dangerous areas in the Detroit zone. All six of their goals were scored near the Detroit crease. And they forechecked very well, often pinning the Red Wings back in the Detroit end for long stretches.
It’s true that the Red Wings also forechecked effectively – and had some success in maintaining possession in the Lightning zone at different points in the game. But even when they didn’t have the puck, the Lightning defended well. They blocked 14 Detroit shots and, with the exception of that segment in the second period when the Red Wings surged, did a good job of limiting Detroit’s scoring chances.
The win extended the Lightning’s lead over Detroit to six points. Thanks to Columbus’ late rally against Philadelphia, which lost in a shootout, the Lightning also gained a point on the Flyers. The Lightning now also own a six-point lead on the Flyers. Tampa Bay holds the tiebreaker over both the Red Wings and Flyers. So this was an important win, not only in terms of getting the six-game homestand off to a good start, but also because it helped the Lightning put some more distance between themselves and the teams behind them in the Eastern Conference standings.
Lightning Radio Big Moment of the Game (as selected by Phil Esposito):
Kucherov’s five-on-three power play goal.
Lightning Radio Three Stars of the Game (as selected by Phil Esposito):
1.Erik Condra – Lightning. Two goals.
2.Ondrej Palat – Lightning. Goal and assist.
3.Victor Hedman – Lightning. Two assists.