Jeff Blashill and Jon Cooper talk about the game and the fight.
Detroit — Who knew this Red Wings–Tampa Bay Lightning series might be the nastiest in the playoffs?
Two teams that aren’t known for their edgy play continued their physical play into Friday’s Game 2.
A total of 119 penalty minutes (68 by the Red Wings) were amassed in Tampa Bay’s 5-2 victory, with a partial brawl breaking out with just under a minute left.
Justin Abdelkader and Tampa Bay’s Mike Blunden were the main heavyweights in the melee. Blunden needed eight stitches on his lip after Abdelkader jumped into the fray, which started when Brad Richards crosschecked Vladimir Namestnikov.
Coach Jeff Blashill felt emotions spilled over from both teams, but wants his team to concentrate on hockey.
“We have to make sure we play with great intensity but make sure we control our emotions,” Blashill said. “Both teams got frustrated for a variety of reasons out there. From our perspective, we have to do a better job of controlling emotions and concentrating on things it takes to win hockey games.”
Abdelkader and Richards weren’t available to the media after the game.
Several Red Wings felt the emotional ending was simply a part of playoff hockey.
“There’s a lot of emotions,” defenseman Niklas Kronwall said. “Obviously it’s the playoffs. We’re here, we’re ready to play.”
Goaltender Jimmy Howard said, “Emotions ran a little high there but now we have to collect ourselves and get ready for Game 3. This is playoff hockey. That’s what happens.”
Forward Dylan Larkin hopes the melee will spark the Red Wings.
“It was a pretty emotional game,” Larkin said. “Maybe it could kick-start our team. He’s (Richards) 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.”
Not a wuss
Larkin scored his first NHL playoff goal on his first playoff shot early in the second period, tying the score at 1.
Larkin played 14 minutes, 48 seconds, and was credited with three hits, although he was minus-2.
After a sub-par Game 1, Larkin was much more pleased with his Game 2, saying Twitter motivated him.
“A lot of people were tweeting at me and stuff and calling me a ‘wuss’ or whatever,” Larkin said. “That was my first playoff game and I knew what to expect tonight. I was, personally, happy. It would have been nice to maybe score another one and help the team a little bit more, but that’s the way I have to play.
“I knew what I was getting myself into before the game.”
Howard stopped 26 of 30 shots but couldn’t be faulted for either loss in Tampa Bay given the Red Wings’ defensive mistakes.
But two consecutive losses might open the door for Blashill to switch to Petr Mrazek, who played so well against the Lightning in last year’s playoffs.
“Jimmy did a good job, he gave us opportunities to win a hockey game,” Blashill said. “Both games were winnable, but we didn’t make enough plays at the right times to win them.”