Lightning’s special teams put Wings in 3-1 hole
Detroit — Both the Red Wings and Tampa Bay had ineffective power plays heading into Game 4.
But the Lightning’s woke up in a huge way Tuesday and it led them to a 3-2 victory over the Red Wings.
The Lighting scored all three of their goals on the power play, the last one by Ondrej Palat at 17 minutes 1 second of the third period.
With Jonathan Ericsson off for cross-checking Palat, Jonathan Drouin centered the puck to the slot where Palat redirected the puck past goalie Petr Mrazek.
The victory gave Tampa Bay a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series. Game 5 is Thursday in Tampa Bay, with the Lightning having the potential to win the series and send the Red Wings home for the second consecutive year.
“We had our backs against the wall the last month of the regular season,” forward Dylan Larkin said. “We pulled through then. We’re excited to go down to Tampa and play Game 5.”
For the Red Wings to rally in this series, the special teams will have to get better.
While the Lightning thrived on the power play — they were a dreary 1-for-14 entering the game — the Red Wings continued to fizzle with the man advantage.
The Red Wings were scoreless on four attempts and are now 1-for-21 for the series.
“It’s frustrating,” captain Henrik Zetterberg said. “We pass instead of shoot and when probably should shoot, we passed. They were blocking shots but we keep forcing pucks in there, too. We keep doing the same things over and over.
“They dominated the special teams.”
Larkin appeared to put the Red Wings ahead on a power play with approximately seven minutes left to play, but his backhander hit the crossbar and bounced off goalie Ben Bishop, before bounding harmlessly away.
“I thought it went off the post and off the backbar,” Larkin said.
Darren Helm and Gustav Nyquist scored late second-period goals, tying the game at 2-all entering the third period.
Nikita Kucherov had the other two Lightning power-play goals.
“We obviously lost the game on special teams, both the power play and penalty kill,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “Regarding the power play, we had too many unforced errors. I didn’t think we won enough pucks when they did pressure us. They did a good job not letting us set up and so you have to win those pucks.”
Nyquist tied the game, 2-2, with his first goal of the playoffs — and second in last 21 playoff games — with just 8.4 seconds remaining in the period.
Justin Abdelkader passed the puck up ice, where Riley Sheahan took puck away from Drouin near the corner and centered the puck to a wide open Nyquist in front, who slipped a one-timer past Bishop.
The goal further energized a Joe Louis Arena crowd that was still buzzing from Helm’s goal, although a Nyquist goalie interference penalty dimmed the enthusiasm shortly after.
Helm’s first goal was the greasy type of goal that teams need to get back into games — and this one was exactly what the Red Wings needed.
Kucherov’s power-play goal had just given Tampa Bay a 2-0 lead and the Lightning killed what had been an awful Red Wings power play.
Helm, stationed near the crease, jammed the puck past Bishop at 14:53, cutting the Lightning lead to 2-1 and quickly putting the Red Wings back into the game.
Until then, the Lightning dominated with two power-play goals from Kucherov.
The start wasn’t the type any of the Red Wings wanted, especially against a Lightning team that was much more involved than in Game 3.
“We didn’t come out with the same jump,” Blashill said. “Now they’d argue they came out with way more jump. Both teams have something to say about it.
“We weren’t quite able to make the same plays. The plays were there to be made and we didn’t quite get them in behind them.”