RED WINGS at LIGHTNING
TV: NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports, FS-D, FS-F
Best-of-7 series is tied 2-2
Instead of attempting to avoid elimination from the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Tampa Bay Lightning find themselves with a chance to push the Detroit Red Wings to the brink when Game 5 of their Eastern Conference First Round series takes place Saturday at Amalie Arena.
The Red Wings must put a potentially devastating Game 4 loss behind them and come up with an answer for Lightning forward Tyler Johnson.
Johnson, one-third of the "Triplets" line that includes Ondrej Palat and Nikita Kucherov, has a series-leading four goals. He started Tampa Bay's rally from down two goals with less than six minutes to play in Game 4 and finished it by scoring 2:25 into overtime for a 3-2 win.
"All we did was put ourselves back in the series. We didn't win the series," Lightning coach Jon Cooper said Friday. "Clearly, [Game 5] is a pivotal game."
Despite the note of caution, the Lightning are in prime position at home, where they were an NHL-best 32-8-1 during the regular season and won 5-1 in Game 2 after losing Game 1 3-2.
"At this stage there aren't many surprises left," Lightning center Brian Boyle said. "We've seen their best and they've seen us play some good hockey too. It's all about who wants to do those little things and who can take advantage of the breaks."
The good news for Detroit is forward Luke Glendening will be available. Glendening's line has been matched against Johnson's, but Glendening left in the third period of Game 4 because of a hand injury and Johnson scored twice and set up Palat for the tying goal. Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said Friday that Glendening will play in Game 5.
Red Wings goalie Petr Mrazek had a shutout streak of more than 119 minutes before Johnson scored. He'll hope to replicate his Game 1 effort in Tampa, when he made 44 saves, rather than his forgettable follow-up, allowing four goals on 18 shots in Game 2 before he was replaced by Jimmy Howard to start the third period.
"Every championship team I've been around has faced some adversity," Babcock said. "You never get better without adversity. So you embrace adversity."
Areas of concern remain for Tampa Bay. Center Steven Stamkos, the second-leading goal-scorer in the NHL in the regular season, has two assists in Game 2 to show for the series. And the power play came up empty again, leaving the Lightning at 2-for-21; their 9.5 percent success rate is 14th of the 16 teams in the first round.
Red Wings forward Gustav Nyquist said he wasn't happy with the four minor penalties they took Thursday.
"Our [penalty killers] did a tremendous job all game long," Nyquist told the Detroit Free Press on Friday. "They've been doing that all series. But we've taken way too many penalties the whole series here and that's something we've got to change because they've got dangerous guys."