Wings, Lightning agree: Can't score without getting hit

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News
Pavel Datsyuk and Tampa Bay center Steven Stamkos get tangled up along the boards during Saturday night's Game 5.

Detroit – Lightning coach Jon Cooper gives the Red Wings credit for one thing. He thinks they can get away with interference.

The Red Wings have done a fine job of making it difficult for the Lightning getting through the neutral zone, a huge reason the Red Wings are one victory from advancing to the second-round of the playoffs.

"There are 30 teams in the league and nobody does (interference) more than the Detroit Red Wings, hands down," Cooper told reporters in Tampa, Fla., on Sunday. "The old saying is, 'If you ain't cheating, you ain't trying.' They do it to a 'T'.

"My message to our guys is you've got to suck it up, got to fight through it. And if they're bringing it, you've got to bring a gun to a knife fight. That's how it has to go. So to get on them, we have to be better."

After Monday's morning skate, Cooper again said it's up to his team to fight through the adversity.

"There are eight playoff series; I'm sure what goes on in our series is going on in the other series," Cooper said. "Fight through it.

"They're a savvy team. They have guys who've been here before. They're taking up space; there is no room in this series either way. This has nothing to do with the referees not making calls. If the refs wanted to, there would be 25 penalties a side.

"You can't avoid it because if you're going to avoid contact, you're not going to get to the net, and that's where you have to get."

The Lightning have been held to 10 goals through five games. Steven Stamkos, who was second in the NHL in the regular season with 43 goals, has not scored in the playoffs.

During Saturday's 4-0 Red Wings Game 5 victory, they held Tampa Bay without a shot for 20 minutes and 14 seconds from the middle of the first to second periods.

"They're hard to play against," Lighting forward Brian Boyle said.

It's the playoffs, said coach Mike Babcock, so this style of play is expected.

"I just think at playoff time, there's no room," said Babcock after Monday's morning skate. "The most determined team fights through. If you're not determined, you can't fight through."