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Wings Gain Ground in Wildcard Chase

The wildcard chase is on! Things certainly have changed in the Eastern Conference standings since the trade deadline on March 8th. Going into the deadline, the Bolts were in eighth place in the conference and fifth in their division. The team just ahead of them in the Atlantic Division? The Detroit Red Wings. Both teams had 72 points, but the Wings had two games in hand. Since then, the Bolts have played nine games and earned 17 of a possible 18 points (0.944 points percentage). Detroit, on the other hand, has played twelve games and earned just 8 of a possible 24 points (0.333 points percentage). The Lightning surge has catapulted them to nine points ahead of Detroit and poised to clinch the top wildcard spot in the coming days. The Red Wings now find themselves on the outside of the playoff picture looking in. But they trail the Flyers for the second wildcard position by just two points with a game in hand. It’s safe to say this is a must win for Detroit. But can they slow down the red-hot Lightning?

The Wings are just 3-5-2 in their last ten games but have had good success against the Bolts this year. They took both of the previous meetings in Detroit earlier this season and will look to keep that success going tonight as their wildcard chase continues.

Let the Chase Begin

The Lightning are in a pretty good position for a wildcard spot. Detroit is in much more of a battle and definitely needs the two points more. But it was the Bolts who looked like they wanted it more to start the first period. They had several good chances including two power plays. Red Wing netminder Alex Lyon had the answer for everything.

The Wings did have some chances of their own as the period went on. Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped Lucas Raymond’s breakaway shot and they had a very dangerous looking power play.

But the period ended with neither team able to solve their opponent’s goalie.

The Cirelli Hat Trick That Wasn’t

After a scoreless first period, the Red Wings started quickly in the second. Patrick Kane found a rebound and beamed it past Vasilevskiy just 37 seconds in to put  Detroit up 1-0.

And then along came Anthony Cirelli. Cirelli went streaking in and got tripped up and pushed into the Red Wing net. The puck clearly crossed over the line and the referrees ruled it a good goal on the ice. But upon review, the goal was taken off the board. No penalty call on the play.

Moments later, the Lightning took a penalty. Hagel and Cirelli went in on a shorthanded rush. Cirelli fired a shot and Alex Lyon appeared to kick it just behind him. Once again, the play was reviewed and once again, it was ruled no goal.

But seconds later, Cirelli would not be denied! He stole the puck from Patick Kane and skated in once again shorthanded with Hagel alongside. The time, Cirelli just absolutely drilled the puck past Alex Lyon. There would be no reviewing this one as Cirelli finally got credit for the game-tying goal!

Second period ended in a 1-1 tie and a phantom hat trick for Anthony Cirelli.

One More Frame to Go in Wildcard Chase

The Red Wings once again scored quickly into a period to take the lead. This time, Robby Fabri scored at 3:40 to give Detroit a 2-1 lead. Shortly after, the Wings took a penalty and the Lightning power play went to work. They had several good looks and finally, with just 13 seconds remaining in the man advantage, captain Steven Stamkos rifled his 31st of the season to tie the game.

With time ticking down in the period, David Prron netted his 15th of the season with 2:40 remaining to give the Wings a final lead.

They would add an empty net goal and sweep the season series from the Bolts with a 4-2 victory.

Three Stars

1- David Perron- game winning goal

2- Anthony Cirelli- 1 goal and a phantom hat trick

3- Alex Lyon- kept his team in the game all night long

Up Next

The Bolts hit the road for the next three games beginning with a stop in Toronto Wednesday night. Puck drop is scheduled for 7pm.

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