The Tampa Bay Lightning came to Detroit with a chip on their shoulders; despite being up two games to none in their first round playoff series against the Detroit Red Wings. The team felt they had some unfinished business stemming from game 2 after Red Wing instigator Justin Abdelkader broke several unwritten & written rules of hockey during his cheap shots as he bloodied Lightning forward Mike Blunden. Abdelkader is no stranger to irritating opposing teams but during a late scrum in front of the Tampa net he repeatedly hit a downed Blunden who was not even facing him drawing the ire of not only Blunden but the entire Lightning club. The team would not guarantee retribution for Abdelkader’s antics but the message was clear, they would not forget what he did. The Red Wings were ready to get back to their friendlier confines of home, in hopes of trying to get the series back to a one game deficit. The one certainty for both clubs heading into tonight after a fierce opening two games; is that there would be no easy games in this series, no matter how many games the series winds up going.
The 1st period would start with the Detroit Red Wings feeding off the energy of their home crowd as they would hit any Lightning player near a puck during the first several shifts of the game. The Ligthning did very little to test Red Wings goalie Petr Mrazek who was making his first start in net of this playoff series replacing Jimmy Howard. The teams would trade penalties with a tripping and embellishment calls but neither team could generate enough offense playing four on four to break the scoreless tie. The Red Wings continued pressure would force the Lightning to take two consecutive penalties as Tyler Johnson and Ondrej Palat were both sent off close to one another giving Detroit a 5 on 3 advantage for about a minute. Ryan Callahan would have three blocked shots by himself, and Ben Bishop would display super human defensive feats killing the 5 on 3, and 5 on 4 power plays with fantastic saves. The Lightning could not generate any momentum despite their big penalty kill and the Red Wings would continue to force several neutral zone turnovers and testing Ben Bishop with a barrage of shots. Bishop would continue to keep the game tied at zero with a stellar save on Pavel Datsyyuk late in the 1st period. In the waning seconds of the period Lightning defenseman Jason Garrison would attempt to play a puck out of the Tampa Bay corner but was sent to the ice writing in pain after a brutal slash by Joakim Andersson. The refs would swallow their whistles as Garrison would be helped to the locker room as the buzzer ending the period would sound. The 1st period would end tied 0-0 with the Red Wings holding the 12-9 shots on goal advantage and 14 to 10 hits advantage.
The 2nd period would start the same way as the 1st period began with the Detroit Red Wings furiously attacking the Tampa Bay Lightning offensive zone. Several Tampa turnovers would exacerbate the Detroit pressure forcing Ben Bishop to become an acrobat to keep the game tied at zero. The Lightning were hoping to turn the momentum in their direction but back to back penalties by Andrej Sustr and Victor Hedman would stop any chances for offense and force the Tampa penalty kill to attempt to keep the game tied early in the 2nd period. The Tampa penalty kill would continue to work with their anchor in net Ben Bishop to successfully kill the Red Wings fourth consecutive man advantage to keep the game even at zero. Tyler Johnson would be slashed and catch a high stick to the face but could not draw the first Tampa power play of the game despite his pleas to the referees. The constant Red Wing pressure would finally pay off after another Tampa neutral zone turnover would lead to a break by Detroit forward Tomas Tatar who would hit center Andreas Athanasiou who sent a perfect shot past Bishop giving the Red Wings the 1-0 lead midway through the 2nd period. Detroit would continue to pour on the pressure after their initial score and a lucky carom off the boards would put the puck in front of the Lightning crease while Ben Bishop was out of position, following a wild scrum the puck would go off a Detroit skate and slide past the goal line giving the Red Wings a 2-0 lead late in the 2nd period. The goal would be reviewed twice, once by the officials and a second time after a Lightning coaches challenge but it would be upheld and credited to left winger Henrik Zetterberg. The Lightning would get a brief glimpse of light at the end of the period as Henrik Zetterberg would be called for interference giving the Bolts their first power play of the night. The initial power play would be ugly as the period would end with the Red Wings leading 2-0, but Tampa would have 50 seconds remaining on their power play when then 3rd period would start. The Red Wings holding a commanding 23-12 shots on goal advantage.
The 3rd period began would start with the Lightning down two goals but with the man advantage from the previous period penalty on Henrik Zetterberg for interference. The Lightning power play would continue to struggle as they never put a legitimate threat at Mrazek and the Red Wings would successfully kill Tampa’s first man advantage of the night. The teams would trade several penalties; five different penalties through the first six minutes of the 3rd period, but neither team was able to do much with the man advantage and the game would remain 2-0 Detroit midway through the 3rd period. The Red Wings were happy to run the clock as the Lightning offense would continue to struggle with puck possession and getting any meaningful shots on goal. Late in the 3rd period Pavel Datsyuk would take a tripping penalty giving the Lightning their last chance to try to make it a game. However, the Tampa power play would continue with its struggles unable to even get a shot off on the Detroit net effectively ending any hopes of making a comeback. In the final seconds of the game a familiar instigator Justin Abdelkader laid a blind side hit on Alex Killorn which drew the ire of his teammate Brian Boyle who grabbed Abdelkader by his jersey challenging him to an honest fight. Abdelkader would attempt to throw a punch with his glove on but would refuse an honest fight with Boyle, preferring to punch downed opponenents with their backs turned instead of facing them one on one. Boyle and the Lightning despite having lost game three would let Abdelkader know they thought his antics were that of a “chicken” mocking the instigator by flapping their arms on their way to the locker room. The Red Wings would get the last laugh tonight though with the 2-0 win in which they dominated the Lightning offensive zone, and forced the Bolts into taking several careless penalties. The Red Wings would also outshoot the Lightning 30-16 for the night. The Lightning now lead the Red Wings 2-1 in the series.
The Lightning will face the Detroit Red Wings for game 4 of the series on Tuesday April 19th at 7:00pm.
THREE STARS OF THE GAME
- Andreas Athanasiou – He scored the game winner on a beautiful shot.
- Petr Mrazek – He got the shut out, the Bolts did not do much to test him with only 16 shots on goal but he did everything the Red Wings needed of him to get the critical game 3 victory.
- Ben Bishop – Bishop did everything he could to will his team to victory, but his offense would not help him out. Stopping 28 of 30 shots may not seem like a huge feat, but when you see that the Red Wings went 0 for 7 on the power play it shows how strong Bishop was in net tonight despite getting the loss.
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