The hottest thing going for the Tampa Bay Lightning is their RPM Line. Composed of (R)oss Colton, (P)at Maroon and (M)athieu Joseph, this RPM line got the team energized for their game this afternoon. Scoring the game’s first goal setting the stage for the 2-1 win over the Detroit Red Wings at Amalie Arena.
During the 2020 Stanley Cup run, the Lightning’s third line Yanni Gourde, Blake Coleman and Barclay Goodrow helped invigorate the team in multiple games. Over the last week or so another line has found the same kind of magic, The newly minted RPM line has been playing lights out and in the prior six games have a combined four goals and five assists. The level of confidence in this line is apparent as coach Jon Cooper began today’s game with the RPM line. That was the fourth consecutive game they were called to start a game for the Lightning
The Red Wings are bringing up the rear in the Central Division. Though at the start of this game, they were closer to the 4th spot (10 points behind) than the Lightning (11 points ahead). Let’s face it, the MoTown visitors haven’t won a game in Amalie since the world was young. Even their loyal fans must be asking: What’s Going On? Although the Wings did beat the Lightning the last time these two teams met. For the Lightning, Andrei Vasilevskiy in the net with his 12-0-0 record coming into the game. For Lightning Fans it was: Let’s Get it On.
RPM Line Sets the Stage
Earning another start, the RPM line went to work right away. Chip and chasing the puck in Detroit’s zone only to unleash an unforgiving forecheck. A little over four minutes into the game, these lunch pail guys did their thing, Got the puck in the Wings zone, cycled the puck and Colton flying through the slot with a backhand shot that had eyes. Getting it past Detroit goalie Thomas Greiss, it put the Lightning up 1-0. That is now five goals and seven assists in the last seven games for one of the league’s hottest lines.
Perhaps motivated by the RPM line, the top line of Brayden Point, Ondrej Palat and Tyler Johnson kept that high energy going. Three minutes after the opening goal, Point with assists from Palat and Victor Hedman scored his 16th goal of the season. It doubled the lead and put the Lightning up 2-0 with more than half of the first period remaining.
For the remainder for the initial period, despite the two quick goals, the visitors began to settle into the game. Both teams had odd man rushes, both teams gave up some high danger scoring chances and both goalies played big. As a result, neither team scored the rest of the way.
Same Old Song
The Lightning have had the Red Wings number for some time in both the regular season and playoffs. In a game that could have been a rout, you have to give Detroit credit. The Lightning put up two goals in the first eight minutes of the game. I’m guessing even Wings fans in the house thought it was over. A tip of the cap to them for not giving up.
The Wings began to play less on their heels and more with determination. After getting out shot 14-7 in the first period, Detroit had 7 to Tampa’s 6 shots in the second. It was the Lightning who were playing a little back on their heels in the second period. The boys have had some recent issues in the second period of games over the last two or three weeks. Fortunately, for them Detroit isn’t exactly an offensive juggernaut so the middle frame ended with neither team scoring.
Entering the third period, it was the RPM line back at work. These lunch pail guys just roll up their sleeves and get ‘er done. Going through their recent standard, they took the play to the Wings. Cycling in their zone and putting pucks on net. They failed to score but they were setting the tone. Through the first several shifts, the push by the Lightning was coming. Griess was up for the challenge.
The Red Wings didn’t fold. It mattered not they were playing the reigning Stanley Cup champs. Immaterial that they haven’t won a game in Amalie in many moons. They held firm and four minutes into the final period, former Lightning Adam Erne gutted out a goal past Vasilevskiy to give the visitors hope. With 16 minutes to play, we got a 2-1 game.
Back and forth the game went. Detroit behind Luke Glendening won almost 60% of the face offs. They blocked more shots than the Lightning and generally played as good a game as they could play against Tampa. It was all for naught as the Lightning held on for the 2-1 victory. All that’s left is the track of Detroit’s tears.
Ross Colton 1 Goal
Pat Maroon 1 Assist
Mathieu Joseph 1 Assist
This season’s version of Groundhog Day as the Lightning face the Red Wings tomorrow at noon at Amalie Arena.
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