This was the Red Wings’ best game so far in the series – and the Lightning’s worst. Detroit played with high intensity and physicality, finishing checks all over the ice. As they did in Game One, they boxed out well defensively in front of goalie Petr Mrazek. And like Game One, Mrazek was very sharp.
The Lightning, on the other hand, struggled with their execution. Their passing was off target for most of the night, which prevented them from generating any speed off the rush or even moving pucks up ice with possession. Too often errant passes ended up deflecting off or missing Lightning players and sliding right to the opposition. They didn’t sustain pressure in the offensive zone and, as mentioned above, weren’t able to get their sticks on rebounds for second and third opportunities.
Then there was the special teams battle. The Lightning went 0-6 on the power play while Detroit posted a power play goal in four chances. Like Game One, in which the Lightning went 0-7 on the man advantage, a couple of those chances were shortened ones. So it wasn’t a “true” 0-6. But the chances included a 54-second five-on-three, on which the Lightning came up empty. That really hurt. While the Bolts enjoyed quite a bit of offensive zone time on those power plays, they didn’t get enough pucks to the net, producing only six total power play shots in the game.
Having written all that, it’s not as if the Lightning were completely outplayed. They defended well themselves without the puck and did a good job of limiting Detroit’s scoring chances. They held the Wings to only 21 shots in the game. Also, it’s true that the Red Wings benefitted from some puck luck – the first goal deflected off of Pavel Datsyuk’s leg past Ben Bishop – and the Bolts didn’t. The Lightning put two pucks off crossbars (including Tyler Johnson’s open net attempt during that aforementioned five-on-three) and were equally unlucky in finishing several other looks when pucks just missed Lightning sticks in front.
But the Lightning know they’ll need to be better on Thursday in Game Four, both in terms of their intensity and passing. They’ll have to find their way to rebounds – as they did in Game Two, in which three of their five goals came off rebounds – and get some production from their power play. Otherwise, they’ll be in jeopardy of falling behind 3-1 in the series.
Lightning Radio Big Moment of the Game (as selected by Phil Esposito):
The failed five-on-three power play in the second period – and going 0-6 on the power play for the game.
Lightning Radio Three Stars of the Game (as selected by Phil Esposito):
1.Petr Mrazek – Red Wings. 22 saves for shutout win.
2.Pavel Datsyuk – Red Wings. Goal.
3.Victor Hedman – Lightning. 23:32 TOI.