DETROIT -- It appeared the law of averages would finally be in the Red Wings' favor against the Tampa Bay Lightning Thursday night at Little Caesars Arena.
When Justin Abdelkader scored at 3:43 of the second period to give the Wings a 3-0 lead, Detroit's 14-game losing streak to the Bolts was soon going to be a distant memory if the Wings could close out the game.
Unfortunately, the stacked Lightning scored the next five goals to defeat the Red Wings, 5-4.
It's easy to see why the Lightning are the best team in the NHL and are drawing comparisons to the vintage Detroit teams captained by former Tampa Bay general manager Steve Yzerman.
The Bolts are deep and talented from the goal mouth out and once they begin to turn it up, you have a steamrolling juggernaut.
Madison Bowey, Darren Helm (shorthanded), Abdelkader and rookie Michael Rasmussen scored for the Wings.
Steven Stamkos (power play), Brayden Point, Tyler Johnson and Nikita Kucherov (two goals, one power play) lit the lamp for the Lightning.
Kucherov also had two assists, giving him 115 points on the season (35-80).
Jimmy Howard's goaltending was once again top notch, but the Wings defense had trouble getting out of their end, which played right into Tampa's wheelhouse. Howard faced 39 shots, making 34 saves for a .872 save percentage.
Detroit fired 27 shots at Tampa goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy; he made 23 saves for a .852 save percentage, but when needed, Vasilevskiy bailed his team out with several big saves.
With the loss, the Red Wings fell to 24-37-10, while Tampa improved its league-best record to 54-13-4.
Up next the Red Wings will conclude their brief two-game homestand Saturday afternoon when they host the New York Islanders (face-off at 1 p.m.).
The Bolts' next game is against the Washington Capitals on Saturday in Tampa.
1. Justin Abdelkader : To say that the Wings big forward was due for a goal is an understatement. After going 40 games without a tally, Abdelkader eluded Tampa Bay defenseman Erik Cernak and beat Vasilevskiy in the left side of the net at 3:43 of the second period. It was Abdelkader's sixth goal of the season. His last goal came Dec. 8 at home against the New York Islanders. Luke Glendening got the only assist on Abdelkader's goal, which was Glendening's 100th career point. In his last eight games against the Lightning, Abdelkader has seven points. Abdelkader finished with 20 shifts for 13:24, had a team-high four shots, three hits, one blocked shot and was even.
Quotable: "You always want to contribute for sure but the most important thing here is coming out on the losing end. Obviously, again, we just got to … it's tough giving up five goals, too. It's going to be tough to win when you give up that many. Like I said, we got to be better in our own zone. As a penalty killer, we got to be better as a unit, can't give them those goals." -- Abdelkader
Quotable II: "I thought it was a bit deceiving with a 3-0 lead. We had a 3-0 lead, which is great. You're putting yourself in position to win, but it wasn't like we were dominating the game. If anything, they started to carry the play at 2-0, especially in the first I thought we got hemmed in our zone a bunch. We weren't giving up big-time chances but it was tons of zone time, so they were wearing us out. In the second, we didn't spend as much time in our zone. We were able to score the third, so now you're up 3-0 and you're in a good spot, but we know this team can score, so you got to keep playing. We had a chance to make it 4-0 a couple different times. I know that sounds crazy, but that's just the reality when you play this group. So those were big moments. They kept pushing, kept pushing. It's 3-2, we get a power play, a real chance to make it 4-2, we don't make it 4-2 and the next thing you know they score and then they score again, so now you're coming from behind. I thought it was deceiving that we were up 3-0 in the sense of who was carrying the play. We got to be better." -- Wings coach Jeff Blashill
2. Madison Bowey/Darren Helm: Bowey is now getting more of a chance to play with veteran Jonathan Ericsson out with a lower-body injury. So at 2:20 of the first period, Bowey fired from the right point, beating Vasilevskiy for a 1-0 Detroit lead. It was Bowey's second career NHL goal and first as a Wing. Bowey has one goal and one assist in his last three games. Along with Abdelkader, Helm is someone who remembers the days when the Wings would always beat the Lightning instead of the other way around. Midway through the first, with Filip Zadina in the box serving a bench minor for too many men on the ice, Helm poked the puck free and took off on a 2-on-1 with Luke Glendening. Helm fired the puck from the left circle and beat Vasilevskiy through the legs at 10:24 for his seventh goal of the season. It also marked the 100th goal of Helm's career. It was the sixth shorthanded goal scored by the Wings this season and first one this season by Helm. Helm now has 12 career shorties, breaking a tie with Nick Libett and tying Red Kelly for eighth in team history. Bowey finished with 18 shifts for 12:15, had two shots, one giveaway and was even. Helm finished with 19 shifts for 12:02, had three shots, one giveaway, one takeaway and was even.
Quotable: "I was happy with it, proud to have 100 goals in this league, it's a tough league. Definitely happy I was able to accomplish that and hopefully just keep moving forward. I guess it's a little fitting, I play a lot of PK minutes and to get a shorthanded goal like that is extra special, I think." -- Helm
3. The streak/Nikita Kucherov: The Wings' losing streak against the Lightning now stands at 15 games. Their last victory over the Lightning came on Nov. 3, 2015. This season, the Wings were 0-3-1 against the Lightning. On Oct. 18, they lost 3-1 in Tampa; on Dec. 4, the Lightning won a 6-5 shootout; last week in Tampa on March 9, the Wings dropped a 3-2 decision. One very large reason for Tampa Bay's success in recent years has been Kucherov. With two goals (one power play, one even strength) and two assists, Kucherov has 16 goals and 12 assists in 23 career games against Detroit. This season has been an extraordinary one for Kucherov, who was third in the NHL last season with 100 points in 80 games but has 115 (35-80-115) in 71 games this season.
Quotable: "Every game is a new game. You can't look back. You have to look forward to the next opportunity. Now it's going be some time before we play them again. Every game is a new game. You can't affect anything that's happened in the past. All you can do is focus on the next game and as far as the streak goes, the next game against them, and find a way to be better." -- Kronwall
Quotable II: "Their best players are elite and they're playing the right way. In the end, to a large degree they outplayed our best players. That's just reality. Part of it is a lot of our best players are young. It's just learning lessons, it's measuring sticks. We've had a couple chances to measure up against them and hopefully our guys that we want to become elite players … ultimately, you need three elite players to be a real playoff team and they probably have five or six. I think Larks (Dylan Larkin) has emerged to becoming towards that elite-type player and I think lots of the year most of us in here would look at his game and say that. We need other guys to take steps towards that. These are great challenges for them and tonight we didn't do that." -- Blashill
Quotable III: "(Kucherov's) had a tremendous year. You obviously can't give him any time and space. He's just so dangerous. Obviously he's a great shooter, but he's a really smart player and makes the players around him better, too. He can score from all over. He's a guy, he's hurt us for many games. We got to make sure we're doing a better job of being hard on him and taking away his time and space because when he gets that space, he scores. He doesn't need that extra shot, he scores on the first time." -- Abdelkader