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Red Wings power play fails to provide jolt in Game 1

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News
Tampa Bay center Vladislav Namestnikov and Detroit left wing Tomas Tatar battle for the puck in the first period.

Tampa, Fla. — An effective power play can prove to be the difference between a winning hockey team and a losing one.

For the Red Wings a scoreless power play was a big factor in a 3-2 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 1 of their first-round playoff series Wednesday.

The Red Wings had five power plays, though penalties curtailed their power-play time to 6 minutes 18 seconds.

But in that six-plus minutes, the Red Wings couldn’t generate a key goal that could have given them much-needed momentum.

“We had some good looks,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “We can do a better job of getting pucks to the net. They do a good job of blocking shots. We have to do a better job of getting pucks to the net.

“When they block it or there’s a rebound, we have to find a way to get that second shot or keep it in the zone.”

Give Tampa Bay goalie Ben Bishop credit, too. The 6-foot-7 Bishop stood tall and cleaned up in back of an effective Lightning penalty kill.

“You want to score, I don’t know how many (power plays) we had but we took some penalties, too,” captain Henrik Zetterberg said, although the Red Wings killed all four Tampa Bay power plays. “I don’t know how many minutes (on the power play) we actually had but we created chances. We had some good ones.

“But obviously you want to see at least one goal there.”

Like many other facets of the Game 1 loss, the Red Wings can improve.

“I was happy with most of our guys, but there’s another level we have to (reach),” Blashill said.

Andersson returns

That would have been some kind of return to the lineup last weekend by Joakim Andersson, scoring on his first shift against the Rangers.

But video review confirmed Andersson was offside, and the goal was wiped away.

“What are you going to do?” Andersson said Wednesday before Game 1 against the Lightning. “That’s the rule. Last year it would have been a goal. In most leagues it would have been a goal. But that’s the rule now.”

The Red Wings decided to keep Andersson and send Anthony Mantha to Grand Rapids after the regular season ended, mainly because of Andersson’s experience and defense.

It also helps he is solid on the penalty kill.

“He knows how to play the game,” Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill said.

Andersson played 9:59 and was a minus-1 with one shot on net.

Back together again

Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk  were reunited on a line in an effort to jolt the Red Wings offense.

“It’s fun every time we have a chance to play, and in the playoffs, it’s pretty exciting,” Zetterberg said.

The Red Wings are hoping the change might spark Zetterberg, who didn’t score the final 11 games, once the last 24.

Zetterberg didn’t score in Game 1, either, with one shot on net in 19:31.

“I’ve been getting some chances, but I just have to be able to put the puck behind the goaltender,” Zetterberg said. “That’s the big issue.”

Blashill is optimistic Zetterberg will get going.

“His scoring chances have been very good, it hasn’t dropped off from the previous 20 games prior to that or throughout the season,” Blashill said. “You’re going to have some ebb and flow in that. He is playing against a lot of the opposing teams’ best players, which isn’t an easy task.

“If he just keeps playing the same game, the production will come.”

Fresh start for Drouin

In a way, Lightning forward Jonathan Drouin has come full circle.

Unable to crack the lineup this season, Drouin was sent to Syracuse, but didn’t report immediately.

When he did, he scored 11 goals in 17 games and earned a ticket back to Tampa Bay when forward Steven Stamkos (blood clot, arm) was lost for the season.

“This is the fun time, we all know that,” said Drouin, who had four goals and six assists in 21 games. “I put all (this season’s drama) behind me and now I’m just focusing on the playoff series against Detroit.”

A 2013 first-round pick, Drouin has elite offensive potential and many analysts believed he’d be traded at the deadline.

But Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman decided to keep Drouin, which proved to be beneficial.

“I’m more comfortable, less thinking on the ice and just (playing),” Drouin said. “You have to make sure you’re accountable and responsible. In your defensive zone, neutral zone, everywhere, you want to be in position where you can be trusted.”

Playing hurt

Lightning forward Tyler Johnson (upper body) was in the lineup, something that didn’t look possible last weekend after he was shoved into the boards, lost balance, and hit his head.

But he practiced Tuesday and was on the ice Wednesday, and was arguably one of the best players in Game 1.

Johnson had two assists and was plus-3 in 16:15.

“You don’t want to be dealing with stuff, but everyone’s dealt with something, especially at this point of the year,” Johnson said. “There’s a lot of wear and tear on the body.

“You go through the locker rooms of both teams, guys are going to be (hurt).”

Johnson scored six goals in last season’s seven-game series victory over the Red Wings.

Ice chips

Tampa Bay has had difficulties in Game 1s in recent years — Wednesday’s victory was only the second Game 1 in six tries the Lightning have won — including last year’s 3-2 loss to the Red Wings.

The Lightning eventually rallied to win that series.

“That being said, we really want to win Game 1,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said.

... Red Wings center Andreas Athanasiou, on Lightning forward Vladislav Namestnikov, his teammate in London from 2010-12: “I had a lot of fun with him, he’s a real good guy. But on the ice, I don’t think we can be buddies too much. After the game I’ll always go say ‘hi’ to him.”

... Lightning defenseman Braydon Coburn, on adjusting to life without defenseman Anton Stralman (fractured leg).“He’s a tough guy to replace but other guys have stepped up. Guys have more responsibility and everybody kind of relishes that role.”