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Wings don't squander Game 5 lead

by Bill Roose / Detroit Red Wings

Drew Miller's first postseason goal since 2013 gave the Red Wings a two-goal lead late in the second period of Saturday's game. (Photo by Getty Images)

TAMPA, Fla. – Asked about Luke Glendening’s playmaking acumen, Drew Miller had some fun at the expense of his younger linemate Saturday night at Amalie Arena.

“I think I’m teaching him a little bit about offense and how to get some points as well,” said Miller, as Luke Glendening rolled his eyes nearby at his linemate’s comments.

“He’s become an all-around player,” Miller added.

Known more for his defensive attributes as a grinding fourth liner, Glendening made a playmaker’s play to put the Red Wings up by two goals late in the second period in a pivotal Game 5 against the Tampa Bay Lightning. The goal by Miller gave the Wings a bit of a cushion heading into the final period of what was clearly Detroit’s most complete game of the best-of-seven Eastern Conference first-round series.

Saturday was the third straight game that they had a 2-0 lead in the third period, and the adversity from Game 4 – in hindsight – put them in a position so that they wouldn’t let this one slip from their grasp.

The power play struck twice and Petr Mrazek made 28 saves lifting the Wings to a 4-0 win, giving them a 3-2 series lead and setting up the first elimination game on Monday night at Joe Louis Arena.

“Yeah I thought our team played well today,” said Miller, whose first goal of the playoffs put Detroit up 2-0 at 15:46. “I think we played well last game and we had a little bit of a hiccup there at the end of the game and they came back and won it. I think we knew we can take the positives out of that and we continued to build on those and played that way tonight. It starts with our goaltender. He played great, the D corps played great and the forwards, line after line was going out there and playing hard.”

Miller’s goal was set up by Glendening’s heady play. Streaking down the right wing, he unleashed a shot that Ben Bishop kicked onto Miller’s tape. From there, Miller only had to tip the puck into the open side behind the Lightning goalie.

“I just came off the bench and yelled at Glennie,” Miller said. “We had a 3 on 2. I just drove the middle, he put a good shot on net and the rebound was just sitting there. Those are the ones you like to get. You just tap them in. Right place, right time.”

Game 6 is Tuesday at Joe Louis Arena. A Game 7, if necessary, would be Wednesday at Amalie Arena.

It was Miller's sixth career postseason goal, his fourth since joining the Red Wings, and the first in last 14 playoff games. He scored in a 3-1 win in Game 3 against Chicago in the 2013 conference semifinals.

Riley Sheahan and Pavel Datsyuk scored power-play goals, and defenseman Danny DeKeyser collected his first career playoff goal into an empty net at 18:22 to preserve the victory.

For the first time in the series, the Red Wings outshot the Lightning, who has a plus-42 differential in shots on goal through five games. Only Montreal (+49) has a better shot differential in the first round.

Regardless of the shot totals, or the fact that the Lightning were the league’s top scoring team with the most home wins of anybody in the regular season, the Wings have gotten better with every game in this series.

“It’s huge,” Miller said. “You go on the road and you play in a barn like this it’s tough. They have a good record here, so this is a big win for us and we’ve got to be able to put this one behind us and get ready for the next game. … It’s a whole different season. People say that for a reason. I think that it actually is a different season. You’ve got to battle for everything in the playoffs. That’s the key to our success. We’ve found a way to battle every shift, every line, we’re just battling.”

Once again, Mrazek was spectacular in earning his second shutout of the series. He joins Harry Lumley (1945 finals vs. Toronto) and Earl Robertson (1937 finals vs New York Rangers) as the only Red Wings rookies to post two shutouts in a single playoff series.

The 23-year-old Mrazek continues to have an unwavering disposition win or lose.

“He’s a competitor, we talked about this all the time he’s got good savvy about him and he thinks he’s gonna win,” coach Mike Babcock said. “A real confident guy and he’s got great athleticism, plays the puck well and he’s playing well for us this series. We just need him to keep getting better like the rest of the team.”

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