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20 game point streak vs Detroit comes to an end as comeback falls short

The Tampa Bay Lighting fell to the Detroit Red Wings in regulation for the first time in 20 games tonight. In the last game of a long road trip, against a bottom dweller, it was the definition of a trap game. Despite trailing 5-2 for most of the second and third periods, the Lightning outplayed and out-chanced the Red Wings through most of this game. Plagued by some defensive miscues, bad bounces, and a soft goal Tampa ceded the lead three times in the first period. They were able to score two late, but it was too little too late. The Bolts will look to right the ship against Nashville as they host fans for the first time this season.

Wide-open first

The Lightning are the best defense team in hockey. The Bolts have given up a league best 50 goals and have the best goal differential at +34. Therefore it was extremely unusual for Tampa Bay to give up goals on the rush. However, when a game is wide-open and back and forth like this one, it is bound to happen. Detroit got a majority of the bounces in this game and seemed to cash in on all of them. On Detroit’s first goal Blake Coleman passed the puck behind Yanni Gourde and when he turned around whacked it into the middle right to Filip Zadina who started the rush the other way for Detroit. Sam Gagner was able to find Troy Stetcher along the Tampa blueline. Stetcher was able to beat Ryan McDonaugh to the circle and fired one past Curtis McElhinney.

Mikhail Sergachev would anser with a laser of his own minutes later to tie the game. However, 1:17 Jan Rutta would lose track of Dylan Larkin. Larkin was able to come into the slot behind the play and had an easy tap in. Steven Stamkos would tie the game a gain just a 1:43 later. On the powerplay Stamkos was able to sneak in to the lower slot and got a beauty of a pass from Alex Killorn and did not miss. 1:11 after the tying tally, Jan Rutta was beat to a puck inside his own end. Anthony Mantha was able to lift the stick of Rutta and muscle it on net. McElhinney was able to make the original save but a charging and tied up Rutta was able to stop and pushed McElhinney behind the goal line. All 5 goals occurred in a span of 5:24.

Game gets away

One had to feel optimistic about the Lightning’s chances heading into the second period. Despite being down one, the Lightning played a solid first period. They controlled possesion and outshot Detroit 15-6. It would not last long however as Detroit scored just 33 seconds into the second. Rutta turned the puck over in the D-zone after his pass bounced off a Red Wing skate. Luck Glendening was able to follow up on a rebound and bank a shot off of McElhinney and into the top of the net. Rob Fabri would make it 5-2 when he was able to cause a turnover outside his own blueline, cut towards the middle and shot top-shelf on McElinney. It was one McElhinney would like to have back.

Down 5-2 Jon Cooper would use his timeout and the Lightning got back to controlling play. They outshot Detroit 13-12 in the second and had tons of scoring chances. This included an robbing of Alex Killorn by Jonathan Bernier late in the second. Bernier had numerous grade-A saves in his 40 stop outing. He was also Detroi’ts best penalty killer as Tampa Bay went 1-for-6 on the powerplay.

Comeback falls short.

The Lightning continue to throw everything towards the net in the third period. They outshot Detroit 16-5 in the period. Still nothing would go. Finally with just over four minutes to go Brayden point was able to pick the lower corner off a Detroit turnover. Only down by two the Lightning would continue their hard work and close the gap again. Point’s shot would bank off Ondrej Palat and past Bernier cutting the lead to 5-4. Unfortunately for Tampa Bay it was too little too late as former Bolt Vladislov Namestnikov would tap in the empy-netter. Tampa’s 20 game point streak versus the Red Wings would come to end.

20 game streak and road trip come to an end.

It was an unbelievable run. It had been 20 games over 5 years since Detroit had last beaten the Lightning in regulation. Rebuilds aside, for a Florida expansion club to earn points in 20 straight games over a model original six franchise is a remarkable accomplishment. Even more important however was the six game road trip the Lightning just concluded. The trip included a 4-1-1 record, a remarkable comeback win vs Chicago, and two thrilling overtime wins. This trip also cemented the club’s best start in Franchise history, going 17-4-2 through 23 games. It exceeded Coopers benchmark of a point a game on the road. Despite dropping the last game, this team should be proud of the performance they put forth on the trip.

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