Game 2 loss leaves Wings facing long road back

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News

Tampa Bay — Somehow the Red Wings have to find a way to slow down Tampa Bay’s scoring line.

And play better defense overall.

Get more scoring.

Play more disciplined and poised.

Get a few more saves from their goaltender.

That’ll about do it. And, maybe, they’ll get back in this series, in which Friday they fell behind 2-0 after losing 5-2 to the Tampa Bay Liightning.

BOX SCORE: Lightning 5, Red Wings 2

Games 3 and 4 are Sunday and Tuesday at Joe Louis Arena, where the Red Wings need to find the type of overall game that’s been missing thus far.

“The result more than anything,” Wings coach Jeff Blashill said when asked what’s been most disappointing. “You’re going to make some mistakes. That’s the reality of life. But we’ve had opportunities in the last two games to win the hockey game and we didn’t win it.

“We have to make a play or two offensively and we have to make a play or two defensively.”

Emotions boiled over with just under a minute left in the game, with Justin Abdelkader punching Lightning forward Mike Blunden after a pile-up began in front of Tampa Bay goalie Ben Bishop when Brad Richards crosschecked Vladimir Namestnikov.

“It was a pretty emotional game,” said Dylan Larkin, who scored his first NHL playoff goal. “Maybe it could kick start our team. He’s not taking no for an answer.

“It was an emotional ending, and maybe a spark for our team. Both teams don’t like each other very much. We sent a message we’re here to battle.”

Larkin and Richards (power play) scored the Red Wings goals, while goaltender Jimmy Howard stopped 26 shots.

Somehow, the Red Wings have to find a way to slow down The Triplet Line that so dominated them last season and is doing so again.

After accounting for all three goals in Game 1 it accounted for four this time, with Tyler Johnson scoring twice (he also had two assists) and Alex Killorn and Nikita Kucherov each adding a goal and assist.

“Not making defensive mistakes would be one,” Blashill said when asked how you slow down Johnson’s line. “Two, we have to do a better job of slowing their speed through the neutral zone, then do a better job of defending. It’s not magic. It’s making sure we play a little big tighter against that line.

“It’s a real good hockey line.”

Johnson scored both his goals after Richards had tied the score at 2 early in the third period.

“You want to keep momentum on your side as long as possible,” captain Henrik Zetterberg said. “They (Johnson’s line) scored four. They’re dangerous, especially when you give them odd-man rushes.”

Killorn scored into an empty net at 17 minutes, 16 seconds, making it 5-2.

On the tiebreaking goal Killorn skated the puck into the zone and around the net, all the while getting Howard out of position.

Killorn fed the puck in front to Johnson, who tapped the puck into a vacant net, Johnson’s first goal of the series.

“Things were going our way and then they gave it to Killorn in open ice,” Howard said. “He made a patient play.”

Johnson made it 4-2 when he one-timed a feed from Kucherov.

The Lightning goals were once again a resounding response after the Red Wings had tied the score on a Richards power play goal at 4:27 of the third period.

“We have to stop making some mistakes in our defensive end,” defenseman Niklas Kronwall said. “They’re getting too many easy goals. They’re a good team, no doubt we have to be better.”