The Tampa Bay Lightning began the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs the same way they began the 2015 postseason, by eliminating the Detroit Red Wings in the Eastern Conference First Round. The Lightning beat the Red Wings 1-0 in Game 5 at Amalie Arena on Thursday to win the best-of-7 series in five games.
Although the Lightning became the first team to advance to the second round, the games were tight, with Tampa Bay winning three one-goal games.
Here are five reasons the Lightning advanced to the second round:
1. Johnson-Killorn-Kucherov Line: Tyler Johnson, Alex Killorn and Nikita Kucherov combined to score 10 of the Lightning's 12 goals in the series. Killorn scored the game-winning goal in Game 1 and clinched the series with the only goal of Game 5, with 1:43 remaining in the third period. Johnson had two goals in Game 2, including the game-winner. Kucherov entered play Friday leading the League with five postseason goals and tied for the lead with eight points. "There's not too many guys in the League that can shoot the puck, pass and do the stickhandling like [Kucherov] does," Johnson said. "But I think the biggest thing that amazes me about him is he has all that skill, but he still works harder than anybody."
Video: DET@TBL, Gm5: Callahan finds Killorn for lead in 3rd
2. Killer instinct: The Lightning killed 24 of 25 Red Wings power plays during the series, including two Detroit 5-on-3 advantages. Valtteri Filppula and Ryan Callahan were the Lightning's most active penalty killers. Filppula won 56.4 percent of his faceoffs and Callahan blocked 11 shots.
3. Ben-sational: Tampa Bay goaltender Ben Bishop was good in the first four games, but raised his level in Game 5. He had 34 saves Thursday for his fourth career playoff shutout. He made saves on breakaway attempts from Riley Sheahan, Dylan Larkin and Darren Helm in the second period to keep the Red Wings scoreless and frustrated. "He's been the rock back there for us," Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. "He's got the talent, he's got the size, he's got the puck-moving ability. … But it's what's between the ears that makes it all work."
Video: DET@TBL, Gm5: Bishop shuts out Red Wings in clincher
4. Depth charge: Top defenseman Anton Stralman and center Steven Stamkos went out with injuries within two weeks of the start of the playoffs. But the Lightning found some unlikely contributors to step up. Defenseman Matthew Carle, who had been a frequent healthy scratch since midway through the regular season, has found new energy in his game and averaged 18:50 of ice time per game, third among Lightning defensemen. Forward Jonathan Drouin, who had requested a trade and was suspended by the Lightning for seven weeks for leaving their American Hockey League affiliate, has looked like a new man since his return to the NHL two games before the end of the regular season. He had four points in the series, including three assists in Game 4.
5. Greater later: In all four Lightning victories, the game was tied at some point in the third period, and Tampa Bay outscored the Detroit 6-1 in the third period during the series. "I thought we held our own throughout the series," Cooper said. "We made the big plays in the third period and they didn't. We got our power play working for the one game and they didn't. That was the difference."