For a number of reasons, this was a very disappointing result for the Lightning. They were unable to build upon Sunday’s win in Carolina. They allowed the Red Wings to score the winning goal in the third period after having battled back from a deficit to tie the game in the second. And while they played with desperation after falling behind in the third period, they did not begin the game with that same level of urgency.
Of course, there was also the continuation of the themes that have haunted the Lightning during most of their 1-4-1 stretch. They ran into a hot goalie. And they hit four posts, including three in the third period when they were seeking the tying goal.
The Lightning still have yet to lead a game after one period this year. They played the Red Wings to a scoreless tie in the opening 20 minutes. The Bolts defended well, especially during two first period penalty kills. But they didn’t exhibit a shooting mentality, often opting for an extra pass instead of a shot. The Red Wings are adept at getting their sticks in passing lanes, so many of those passing plays were disrupted.
The Red Wings are a very difficult team to face because they play a structured game and don’t allow the opposition much time and space to make plays. They become even tougher to play when they get the lead. So when Riley Sheahan scored early in the second period, the Lightning were forced to play catch-up. But late in the period, they caught a break that helped them tie the game. During a Detroit penalty kill, Joakim Andersson took a delay of game penalty for shooting the puck out of play. The Lightning cashed in on the ensuring five-on-three. Steven Stamkos’ shot hit the post and the rebound came to Tyler Johnson, who seemed to have an open net. But his shot hit a Detroit defender. It then ricocheted to Nikita Kucherov, who did bury the puck into an open net, tying the game with 4:02 left in the second.
The Lightning still had 1:39 worth of power play time after Kucherov’s goal, but they didn’t generate much pressure, other than an in-close chance for Ondrej Palat. That was an opportunity squandered – a goal there would have given the Lightning a lead with only a couple of minutes left in the second period. Similar to how they took the lead for good in Sunday’s game at Carolina.
Instead, the score remained tied at one entering the third. And nearly six minutes into the period, the Red Wings retook the lead. The play began in the Red Wings zone. Palat, pursuing a loose puck, slid into the Detroit net and knocked it loose. Had the Lightning touched the puck, the whistle would have sounded. But they never did touch it. Dylan Larkin rushed the puck into the offensive zone, executed a give-and-go with Justin Abdelkader, then skated from the right corner to the side of the net and slid it past Ben Bishop. It was a goal Bishop would probably like to have back, but his involvement in the play only came at the end of it. Before Larkin took his shot, the Lightning allowed the Red Wings to skate 200 feet down the ice without slowing them up. Had they done that and touched the puck, the goal never would have occurred.
Down by one for the second time in the game, the Lightning didn’t let the Red Wings settle into their suffocating defensive stance, though. Rather, in the final 13 minutes or so, the Lightning played their best hockey of the game. They peppered Jimmy Howard with shots – and many of them were close range attempts. But Howard was up to the task. In all, he made 13 third period saves and, as mentioned earlier, got some help from the posts.
So, yes. There was some bad luck for the Lightning, both in terms of the posts hit and the fact that the opposition goalie had a terrific night. But had the Lightning started the game with the same urgency they showed for most of the third, they would have had a great opportunity to take control of the contest early on. That didn’t happen, however, and the Red Wings never trailed in the game. The Bolts now head to Buffalo, where they will look to pick up in the first period on Thursday against the Sabres where they left off in the third period against the Red Wings.
Lightning Radio Big Moment of the Game:
Howard’s key third period saves, preserving the 2-1 Detroit lead.
Lightning Radio Three Stars of the Game:
1.Jimmy Howard – Red Wings. 29 saves.
2.Dylan Larkin – Red Wings. GWG.
3.Nikita Kucherov – Lightning. PPG. Most dangerous player for the Lightning in the game.