Mrazek silences doubters with second playoff shutout

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News

Tampa, Fla — The questions surrounding goaltender Petr Mrazek are disappearing by the game.

After a heart-wrenching late-game loss in Game 4, there was doubt as to whether the young goaltender could recover Saturday in Game 5.

Mrazek answered all questions convincingly with a 4-0 shutout victory, stopping all 28 shots for his second shutout of the series.

"It's nice to have the shutout but it doesn't matter," Mrazek said. "It's the playoffs and it doesn't matter if you give up three or four goals and win, that's the most important stuff."

Coach Mike Babcock had a conversation with Mrazek Saturday morning to remind him of the opportunities in the playoffs.

"He said this the fun time of the year and I know that," said Mrazek, who led Grand Rapids to the Calder Cup championship in 2013. "When it's the playoffs, you don't want to have four losses and go home sad and wait for next year.

"You just want to enjoy every game you have."

Mrazek withstood an early Tampa Bay push, then was crucial as the Red Wings again dominated on the penalty kill, killing all three Lightning power plays.

Mrazek looked calm and confident, maybe more so than at any point in the series.

"I do (feel calm) but it's a new game Monday and this is over and now I just think about Monday," Mrazek said. "We knew they'd come out hard in the first 10 minutes. We started to play better and we had more shots after that."

Babcock has always been a fan of Mrazek's competitiveness, which shone through in Game 5.

"He's an elite competitor and has good savvy about him," Babcock said. "He thinks he's going to win, he's a confident guy, and he has great athleticism.

"He's playing well for us in this series and we need him to continue to get better, just like the rest of the team."

Shake it off

How were the Red Wings able to shake off the gut-wrenching way they lost Game 4?

By concentrating on the first 55 minutes of that game and the way they outplayed Tampa Bay during that span.

"We played probably our best game for 55 minutes, then they scored two quick goals to tie the game," captain Henrik Zetterberg said. "If you break down the game, we did a lot of good things. We just wanted to keep doing that here.

"We knew if we'd played similar to how we did the last two games, we'd have a good chance and we did."

It helps, also, to have veteran leadership such as Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk and Niklas Kronwall, players who've been through the roller coaster of the playoffs.

"It's a veteran group and you lean on those guys who've been through it and been around" Zetterberg said. "We're calm and prepared."

Ice chips

For a team that wasn't supposed to have the same scoring depth as the Lightning, the Red Wings are doing just fine.

The Red Wings have eight different players who've scored in this series (Tampa Bay has seven) and have outscored the Lightning through five games 13-10.

"The more guys we have healthy, the more depth we have," said Babcock, noting the addition of Justin Abdelkader in Game 3 from a hand injury strengthened and solidified the lineup. "We're pretty comfortable with our lineup but we know we have to execute."

…After a late regular-season slump, the penalty kill has come back strong in the playoffs. They've killed 22 of 24 Tampa Bay power plays.

"It's something that dipped for a bit, but nothing we were worried about," Miller said. "We take pride in it."