Let the series begin.
Detroit goalie Petr Mrazek starts a game for the first time in 22 days (March 26 vs. Pittsburgh) and stops all 16 shots he faces as the Wings beat Tampa Bay 2-0 in Game 3 on Sunday at Joe Louis Arena.
Apparently the last change for the home bench makes a significant difference, because the Wings held the Triplets Line of Alex Killorn-Tyler Johnson-Nikita Kucherov to zero shots on goal. That’s right, the Lightning's top line that scored seven of eight goals in two games in Tampa Bay did not get a single shot on net.
Wings defenseman Brendan Smith (healthy scratch in Games 1 and 2) cracks the lineup and finishes plus-1 with two blocks. He drew penalties from Johnson and Braydon Coburn and delivered three body checks — including a crushing hit to Cedric Paquette in the opening minutes of the first period.
Wings center Luke Glendening earned the No. 1 star of the game. He was matched against Johnson, a center, throughout the night.
Andreas Athanasiou and Henrik Zetterberg scored second-period goals for the Wings, who will try and even the series Tuesday at 7 p.m. at Joe Louis Arena. The Wings trail the best-of-seven series, 2-1.
Mrazek has three career playoff shutouts in eight starts, all against Tampa Bay.
Clock expires, melee unfolds
The clock expires as a wild fracas unfolds. The Wings win Game 3, 2-0, to cut the series deficit to 2-1.
Wings goalie Petr Mrazek stops 16 shots to earn the shutout.
Here's what happened in the final seconds: Tampa Bay defenseman Braydon Coburn took a run at Henrik Zetterberg along the Tampa Bay bench, which caused a melee.
The Wings' Brendan Smith and Victor Hedman tussled, and Justin Abdelkader and Brian Boyle nearly came to punches.
Coburn goes to box
Tampa Bay pulled goalie Ben Bishop for the extra attacker, but Braydon Coburn goes to the box with 2:17 left for interference.
Wings defenseman Brendan Smith drew the penalty, and was then held back by goalie Petr Mrazek, who wanted to avoid any retaliation.
Moments earlier, Mrazek made a big stop on Valtteri Filppula.
Detroit kills penalty
The Wings lead 2-0 with 3:05 left after killing a Tampa Bay power play.
The Triplets Line of Alex Killorn-Tyler Johnson-Nikita Kucherov has not registered a shot through 57 minutes.
Tampa Bay goes on power play
Tampa Bay will go on the power play with 5:40 left in the third period. The Wings' Pavel Datsyuk is whistled for tripping.
The Wings have held Tampa Bay to two shots through 14 minutes of the third period.
The Wings are outshooting Tampa Bay 30-14.
Wings defenseman Alexey Marchenko returns to action after suffering a heavy, glass-rattling hit in the second period. He appeared to have a cut on his forehead.
Pavel Datsyuk cuts in front of the crease, but his backhander is denied by Tampa Bay goalie Ben Bishop.
It's 2-0 Wings with 7:05 left in the third period.
Wings fans hope this isn't their last look at Datsyuk, who may very well be playing the final home games of his 14-year career. (Game 4 is Tuesday at 7 p.m.)
Datsyuk is eighth on the Wings’ all-time list with 42 career playoff goals. He has an opportunity to catch Ted Lindsay (44) and Tomas Holmstrom (46) in this series.
The Wings lead 2-0 with 8:27 left.
Does this look familiar? Remember Game 4 last year at The Joe?
Oh, the haunting memory lingers. A riveting second period had Wings fans rocking (along with Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera in the stands). It was 2-0 all the way until the tail end of the third period.
Then, well ... Lightning struck. (Sorry, couldn't help it.)
A two-goal Wings lead with five and a half minutes to go evaporated.
How did it happen? Well, Tyler Johnson happened. Two goals in 1:17. Ouch.
And the overtime winner was just downright ugly. It was a three-on-one break that ended with Victor Hedman passing across the crease to Johnson, who buried the puck into a gaping net.
Wings goalie Petr Mrazek, who was helpless, actually caught a piece of Hedman's pass — but it still found its way to Johnson, who scored on a bad angle.
Back to tonight. The Triplets Line of Alex Killorn-Tyler Johnson-Nikita Kucherov has not registered a shot through 52 minutes.
Wings cannot convert on power play
The Wings cannot convert on a power play. Rookie Dylan Larkin had a solid chance as the Wings won the faceoff, but his shot was turned aside by goalie Ben Bishop.
In Game 2, Larkin, 19, became the youngest Red Wing to score a playoff goal since Keith Primeau.
It was April 8, 1991 when Primeau scored on Vincent Riendeau to help the Wings win 5-2 against St. Louis in Game 3. (The Wings lost the series in seven games.)
Primeau was the third-overall pick of the 1990 NHL Entry Draft.
Wings power play
Tampa Bay's Alex Killorn gets whistled for tripping the Wings' Luke Glendening.
The Wings have a power play and a 2-0 lead with 14:13 left.
Wings defenseman Niklas Kronwall went to the penalty box for holding Alex Killorn. Tampa Bay had a 35-second, 4-on-3 advantage that was killed.
Tampa Bay was supposed to have a 5-on-4 for 1:25, but the power play was negated when Tyler Johnson was whistled for hooking the Wings' Brendan Smith. It was 4-on-4 for 1:03.
The Wings now have a power play for 57 seconds.
Wings kill penalty
The Wings lead 2-0 and killed Tampa Bay's 52 seconds of power play time that stretched into the third period.
As the power play concluded, the Wings' Darren Helm and Nikita Kucherov exchanged shoves near the benches and both went to the box.
It's 4-on-4 for two minutes and 19:02 is left in the period.
Will we see the scrum-filled affairs we saw in Tampa Bay? Game 2 featured 119 penalty minutes.
Wings lead after two periods
Joe Louis Arena delivers a roar as the second period concludes. The Wings lead 2-0 in Game 3.
The Lightning were held without a shot for the final 9:35 of the period.
The Lightning get a power play as Henrik Zetterberg goes to the box with 1:08 left in the second period. They will have 52 seconds of power play time to start the third period.
Tampa Bay was 1-for-11 on the power play entering tonight.
The Lightning top line of Nikita Kucherov-Tyler Johnson-Alex Killorn has been held without a shot through two periods. The trio, dubbed The Triplets, accounted for seven of eight Tampa Bay goals in the opening two games.
The Wings outshot Tampa Bay 11-3 in the second period.
Zetterberg's goal stands
The captain strikes.
Henrik Zetterberg crashes the net and his skate makes contact with the puck — twice — as it slips behind goalie Ben Bishop for a 2-0 Wings lead.
After a wild sequence featuring two broken sticks and several scoring chances, a puck caromed off the end boards and confused Lightning goalie Ben Bishop.
As Bishop was turned around, the puck stayed in the crease and was cleared by Tampa Bay's Jason Garrison, but directly into Zetterberg's right skate. It traveled toward the goal line. In the process, as Zetterberg's momentum was gliding toward the net, the puck then hit his left skate, and went past Bishop.
The play was reviewed and the goal stood. It was determined that there was no distinct kicking motion.
Moments later, Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper challenged the call. But the call still stood.
There's 2:38 left in the second period.
Tampa Bay has three shots in the second period.
That's Zetterberg's first playoff goal since Game 5 of 2014 vs. Boston. He went nine straight playoff games without a goal. (Zetterberg did not score a goal in last year’s seven-game exit to Tampa Bay, and was minus-4 with three assists.)
Zetterberg now has 57 career playoff goals in 135 games — an impressive stat considering it’s third on the Wings’ all-time list. (1. Steve Yzerman, 70 goals in 196 games; 2. Gordie Howe, 67 goals in 154 games).
Andreas Athanasiou's one-timer from the middle of the circle beats Tampa Bay goalie Ben Bishop for a 1-0 lead with 7:18 left in the second period. Joakim Andersson assisted on the play.
The Wings held a lead for 5:22 in Games 1 and 2 combined.
Finally, a cycle in the attacking zone created a chance.
Andersson, Tomas Tatar and Athanasiou maintain possession deep in the Lightning zone (a staple of the Wings’ Cup-winning teams in 1997, ’98 and 2002). Andersson finds Athanasiou lurking in the slot, and his one-time slapper beat Bishop.
The Joe Louis Arena crowd is alive and rocking, chanting “BISH-OP” to get under the skin of the Tampa Bay goalie.
Can the Wings sustain the momentum? That's been their problem in this series.
In Game 1, Mike Green and Justin Abdelkader scored goals within a 1:56 span for a 2-1 lead. But the Wings coughed it up within 5:22 (a trait they showed during the regular season stretch run).
Another example in Game 1: Victor Hedman’s overturned goal when Jonathan Drouin was offsides could’ve been a turning point for a game that was tied in the third period. Yet the Lightning responded 1:57 later when Alex Killorn deflected a shot past Jimmy Howard.
In Game 2, the Wings’ Dylan Larkin tied the game 1-1 in the second period, and 3:36 later, Brian Boyle gave Tampa Bay the lead.
Another Game 2 example: The Wings’ Brad Richards scored to tie the game 2-2 in the third period. And just 2:05 later, Tampa Bay’s Tyler Johnson gave the Lightning the lead.
Power play sputters
Make that 1-of-15 on the power play in the series. The Wings failed to convert on back-to-back power plays and are 0-for-4 tonight.
Perhaps the Wings’ best chance came by accident: Riley Sheahan’s attempted centering pass hit the skate of Tampa Bay’s Andrej Sustr, and ricochets toward goalie Ben Bishop — but it hits his left leg pad.
The game is scoreless with 7:38 left in the second period.
Tampa Bay's Vladislav Namestnikov delivers a heavy, glass-rocking hit to Wings defenseman Alexey Marchenko.
Tampa Bay has not had a power play tonight.
Wings get another power play
Moments after the Wings failed to convert on a power play, they are granted another opportunity when Bolts defenseman Victor Hedman slashes Darren Helm.
There is 12:23 left in the second period and the score is 0-0.
Andrej Sustr took a penalty 2:11 prior to Hedman's penalty, but the Wings could not convert and dropped to 1-of-14 with the man-advantage in the series.
Wings buzz, cannot score
The line of Henrik Zetterberg-Dylan Larkin-Gustav Nyquist buzzes the Tampa Bay net in the opening minutes.
Gustav Nyquist had a shot blocked by defenseman Andrej Sustr.
Moments later, a puck hopped over the stick of Nyquist, who was in the slot with a wide-open net.
The Wings' Andreas Athanasiou and Tomas Tatar have a two-on-one rush for the second time of the night, but this time, Athanasiou takes a shot on goal (earlier Tatar missed the net), and it’s denied by the right-leg pad of Tampa Bay goalie Ben Bishop.
The Wings dodged a bullet moments later when Tampa Bay’s Erik Condra found an open net on the side of the post as Petr Mrazek could not locate the puck. Condra missed the net and the puck sailed through the crease.
Second period begins
It's 0-0 in the opening minute of the second period at Joe Louis Arena.
The Wings’ Joakim Andersson ended the first period with a slash to the back of the left leg of Tampa Bay defenseman Jason Garrison, who needed slight assistance off the ice.
After back-to-back physical games in Tampa Bay— including a 14-penalty outburst in the final minute of Game 2 — there were not any scrums in the first period of Game 3 tonight.
The Wings’ Dylan Larkin said after Game 2 that both teams do not like each other. Lightning forward Cedric Paquette ripped Justin Abdelkader and acknowledged there might be retribution for Abdelkader’s bludgeoning of Mike Blunden at the end of Game 2.
Blunden received nine stitches, but said his visor split him open.
The Wings failed to convert a glorious opportunity: A 5-on-3 for 59 seconds does not generate any high-quality shots.
Wings forward Brad Richards wound up to shoot — and was blocked by Tampa Bay forward Ryan Callahan.
Wings defenseman Mike Green wound up to shoot — and was blocked by Callahan.
From there, Lightning goalie Ben Bishop turned aside a backhander from Pavel Datsyuk, who shot from a bad angle on the side of the net. And another shot by Richards from the middle of the circles is easily turned aside.
The Wings’ five-man unit featured Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg, Justin Abdelkader, Mike Green and Brad Richards. Where was Dylan Larkin?
Tampa Bay blocked nine shots in the opening period. The Lighting blocked 15 shots in Game 1, and 15 in Game 2.
Wings get 5-on-3
Ondrej Palat gets called for tripping Gustav Nyquist.
The Wings have a 5-on-3 for 59 seconds.
Wings power play
With 5:28 left in the first period, Tampa Bay’s Tyler Johnson (six points in this series) gets whistled for tripping Luke Glendening.
It's still 0-0.
Sheahan, Athanasiou cannot finish
The Wings' Riley Sheahan skates down the right wing and breaks in alone (although on a bad angle) against Tampa Bay goalie Ben Bishop, who denies Sheahan's wrist shot from atop the crease.
Moments later, speedster Andreas Athanasiou ignited the Wings' crowd on a one-on-one.
Athanasiou performed a backward spin atop the circle to create space, then turned back inside to his forehand — sending defenseman Jason Garrison sliding out of the way in confusion (something Wings fans are used to seeing from Pavel Datsyuk).
Athanasiou created the best scoring chance of the game from the slot, but his wrist shot sailed wide of the right post.
It's 0-0 with 5:36 left in the first period.
Tatar misses net
The Wings generate a two-on-one rush with 9:14 left in the period when Andreas Athanasiou wheels into the Tampa Bay zone with teammate Tomas Tatar.
Athanasiou passed across to Tatar, but he missed the net.
It’s still 0-0 with 8:16 left in the first period.
Athanasiou’s average time on ice (8:09) is last on the team through two games of the series. It’s puzzling for Wings fans who enjoy his blazing speed.
Smith levels Paquette
The Wings have held the Lightning to one shot through the opening six minutes.
At the 4:34 mark, both the Wings’ Darren Helm and Tampa Bay's Victor Hedman went into the penalty box. Hedman tripped Helm, but the referee ruled that Helm embellished the trip.
In the opening stages, Detroit defenseman Brendan Smith leveled Cedric Paquette deep in the Wings’ zone, which ignites the crowd.
Interesting move by Wings coach Jeff Blashill to insert Smith (6-foot-2, 211 pounds), who was second in penalty minutes in the regular season. Smith was a healthy scratch for the final seven games of the regular season, and the opening two games of this series.
Puck drops in Game 3
It’s scoreless in the opening minute as goalie Petr Mrazek earns the start between the pipes for the Wings, who trail the best-of-seven series 2-0.
The task is daunting. The Wings must win four of the next five games against a Vezina Trophy candidate in the likes of Tampa Bay goalie Ben Bishop, and shut down a red-hot line of Nikita Kucherov-Tyler Johnson-Alex Killorn.
The Wings are 11-3-1 at Joe Louis Arena since February 1, the second-best mark in the NHL (Anaheim, first).
Take a long look at Pavel Datsyuk, who may very well be playing the final home games of his 14-year career.
The Wings have not been swept in a series since 2003 (Anaheim).
Brendan Smith replaces Kyle Quincey for the Wings’ defensive unit.
Vladimir Konstantinov sat upon the Wings’ bench during warmups and gave a fist bump to the players as they exited the ice.