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Lightning Can’t Finish in Shootout Loss in Detroit

The vaunted Tampa Bay Lightning offense could not finish in shootout and lose 1 – 0 in Detroit. Much maligned backup goalie Curtis McElhinney held the Detroit Red Wings scoreless, though that effort was lost in the loss.  Going for their fifth consecutive win, the Lightning dominated throughout most of this game.  Yet, the home team stayed close as they denied the visitors any goal of their own through three periods.  

At the beginning of today, the Lightning have clinched a playoff spot (no surprise there) and are a team playing to get playoff ready. We began to see evidence of this on Thursday against Dallas in that 3 – 0 win.  After missing a game, newly acquired defenseman David Savard played Thursday against the Stars..  He was on the ice today in Detroit and the defensive corps is playing as if they’re in postseason mode.  Through the last 120 minutes of regulation, the Lightning have not allowed a goal. 

From the opening puck drop, we saw the Lightning team that believes that keeping their opponents from the puck is imperative for their team defense. They were relentless as they outshot the Wings 11 – 4 in the first period. That included killing a penalty in which they held Detroit shot-less.  The boys battled for every puck and won most of those battles.  It wasn’t just one line taking it to them, it was all four lines, all the time. 

Tampa began the game with their fourth line of Pat Maroon, Ross Colton and Matthieu Joseph.  Those three got the ball rolling.  Wave after wave and shift after shift the Lightning poured in on and took the game to the Wings. So, heading into the middle frame in a scoreless game, somebody’s defense was going to have to blink first. 

Which Team Scores First?

As the second period went on, the home team sought to make it tougher for the road warriors.  Detroit began to get some time in the Lightning zone.  It wasn’t pretty as we never saw a pure cycle but they maintained significant puck possession time.  The Red Wings still struggled to get unimpeded shots on goal but it was less about their effort.  It was Lightning defense that continued to stand tall in front of McElhinney.  

At 9:05 of the second period, Victor Hedman was whistled for a holding penalty.  For the second consecutive penalty, the Lightning penalty killing units did not allow a single shot on goal. I know for a lot of offensive minded fans, this game must have been a snoozefest.  Fans that prefer defense, this was the game for them.  Granted, Detroit is not like any potential playoff matchup but they are an NHL team.  For the Lightning, they are the second consecutive NHL team they have played who failed to score a single goal in regulation. 

Throughout the period, the Wings were staying with the Lightning.  Seeing a lot more shots than his counterpart, Detroit goalie Thomas Greiss was playing well himself.  The shot differential leaned slightly towards Tampa in the second period, 6 – 5.  Where the Wings improved from the dismal first was matching the Lightning in offensive zone time.  Frankly, as stout as the Lightning defense was playing, the Wings were matching their effort the more the game played on. Would the Lightning offense score to help maintain a shutout for them and their goalie? 

Preserving the Shutout to See Who Can Finish in Shootout

During the final period of regulation, the game began to mirror today’s first period.  The Lightning began getting the Wings playing on their heels.  It was in the final period that the Lightning had three power play chances, including 1:46 of a 5 on 3 man advantage.  They peppered the puck towards Greiss.  Nothing got through. 

As the period winded down, still scoreless, it appeared as if Ryan McDonagh lit the lamp at about the 9:00 minute mark. Detroit immediately challenged the goal citing goalie interference on Ondrej Palat. After the review the goal was disallowed and we were back to zero-zero. 

With half the period remaining, the Lightning were throwing everything they could Greiss’ way to no avail. As regulation ended, the Lightning outshot the Red Wings 14 to 4 to hold a 31 – 13 shot differential through three periods. 

On to overtime where each team played it conservatively and only managed two shots on goal in the five minute OT period. So, we go to the shootout and see which team can finish in shootout mode.  The Lightning hoping for a quick finish in shootout selected Ross Colton to take the first shot and he wrists a shot past Greiss.  Jakub Vrans for Detroit answers that goal with a goal of his own, Brayden Point takes the next shot and puts it past Greiss to give the Lightning a 2-1 temporary lead.  Filip Zadina responds with goal to tie the shootout at two, 

After four attempts by each team that failed, Tyler Johnson put the Lightning up 3-2.  Valtteri Filppula keeps Detroit alive by putting one past McElhinney.  After Yanni Gourde misses his chance, Sam Gagner sends a shot past McElhinney to give Detroit the win, 1 – 0.

Three Stars 

  1. Thomas Greiss – Detroit: Stopped all 33 shots he faced in regulation
  2. Curtis McElhinney – Tampa: Stopped all 15 shots he faced in regulation
  3. Sam Gagner – Detroit: Scored game winner in shootout

What’s Next

No rest for the weary as these same two teams meet tomorrow at 3:00 in Detroit.

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