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Lightning Lose Winning Ways On First Road Test

After a convincing opening night win Tuesday against Nashville, the Tampa Bay Lightning took their show on the road. Facing the Detroit Red Wings at Little Caesars Arena for their first road game of the new season. This is also the home opener for the Red Wings. Like many games throughout a six month hockey season, this is a test. How well will this Lightning team play on the road? Can they continue their winning ways and build on their Game 1 win?

Tyler Motte, injured in Tuesday’s game, is out indefinitely. As a result, Coach Jon Cooper went with the 11 forward and 7 defenseman lineup. Hayden Fleury is the extra D-man. All other Game 1 players remain the same. Jonas Johansson gets the nod again in net for Tampa. 

Game On

Besides being their first road game, the Lightning are also playing their first Atlantic divisional game. From the opening puck drop, the game had a division game feel. Players finishing their checks, strong backchecking, blocking shots. It’s hockey’s version of three yards and a cloud of dust. 

Opening the game’s scoring was Daniel Sprong for Detroit. On a chip and chase, the Wings pressed but Erik Cernak had the puck in the corner. Upon feeling some forechecking pressure, Cernak made an ill-advised back handed pass towards the slot. Alex DeBrincat stole the puck then circled around the dot and fired a shot towards Johansson. The puck slowly squirted behind Johansson and Sprong sprung into action. He tipped the puck into the net to give Detroit the 1-0 lead. 

The Lightning were now looking to answer the Red Wings goal. They thought they had it a couple of minutes later. Victor Hedman was flying up the left side and passed the puck towards the goalie crease. Brandon Hagel got a stick on it but the puck flew straight up in the air. For a split second it seemed as if everyone lost sight of the puck except Steven Stamkos. As the puck came down, Stamkos seemed to use the butt end of his stick to put the puck in the net. 

To Goal or Not to Goal

The ensuing video review deemed Stamkos hit the puck too high and it was called no goal. Didn’t matter because a couple minutes later, Stamkos slapped a shot past Ville Husso to tie the game at one. Hedman fed his captain a sweet pass setting up the goal. 

Hedman was playing a very good game. Shortly after his helper on Stamkos’ goal, he fed a beautiful two line pass to Hagel who sniped a shot past Husso to a 2-1 Lightning.

That lead was short-lived. DeBrincat, who seemed to be shooting from everywhere, sent a shot from near the blueline. Luke Glendening got his stick on it but it created a knuckle-puck headed straight for Johnasson. Sure enough, it bounced over the Lightning goalie to tie the game at two.

Second Period Blues

In the season opener, the second period was a rough one for the Lightning. Tonight, that malaise seemed to continue.Two minutes into the middle period, Lucas Raymond snapped a shot high over Johansson’s stick side to give Detroit a 3-2 lead. After scoring this goal, the Red Wings were taking it to the Lightning. Clearly, the momentum had tilted to Deroit’s side.

If not for Johansson, the game might have been put out of reach by the home team in the second period. At the end of the first period, Detroit had a 14 to 10 shot advantage. By the time the horn sounded at the end of the second period, they extended that to 32 to 18 shots. 

The Lightning playing on their heels most of the period found themselves on an odd man rush. Streaking down the right side was Stamkos. It was a vintage Stamkos goal. For my friends who remember high school Latin: Venit, Iecit, Notatos. He came, he shot, he scored.

In the last few minutes of the period, J.T. Compher tipped in a Moritz Seider slap shot that went past Johansson to give Detroit a 4-3 lead as we head to the final period.

Final Chance for Two Points

We have to give Detroit some credit. They are supposed to be a team on the rise though playoff talk may be premature. Tonight they played like they had something to prove. Just as the third period was going to hit the five minute mark, DeBrincat scored his second goal of the game. He and Dylan Larkin were on a 2 on 1 breakaway and Johansson had no chance to stop that puck. So, now the Wings have a 5-3 lead with 15 minutes left in regulation. 

At this point, we might say it doesn’t look good for the Lightning. They didn’t play like it though. After a post whistle scrum, the Lightning earned a power play opportunity. They didn’t let that chance go to waste. Hedman, having a monster game, shot from the top slot with Nick Paul screening Husso and the puck had eyes. No quit in these boys yet as Hedman brings them to within one shot of tying the game.

The Lightning gave a strong effort to tie the game. Pulling Johansson with just under three minutes left. With the extra man, Tampa got great looks but none could find the back of the net. Detroit scored an empty netter with 0.6 seconds left. Final score was 6-4 Detroit. 

Three Stars

  1. Victor Hedman – Played like a beast all night. One goal, two assists.
  2. Steven Stamkos – Two goals including a classic Stamkos snipe
  3. Alex DeBrincat – Two goals in his first home game as a Red Wing

What’s Next

No rest for the weary. The Lightning have to get back at it tomorrow in Ottawa. Game starts at 

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