Wings concerned with second-period stall in Game 4
Detroit — The Red Wings are less concerned about their start to Game 4 than they were about their second period, and they hope to attend to some of those details in Game 5 on Thursday to improve their chances of extending the opening-round series.
The Lightning struck swiftly and heavily in the first period, opening up a 5-1 lead in shots on goal and then making it 10-3 about 10 minutes in.
But Wings coach Jeff Blashill thought it was mostly a matter of the Lightning recovering from a poorly played Game 3 and skating hard on the Wings, and Detroit doing some good pushing back.
The difference is between a team getting run over and a team coping with an onslaught.
“I think everybody in the room knew they were going to come out and play way better,” Blashill said. “So lots of times the other team has something to say about it.
“There was pushback, both ways.
“The chances at the end of the first I thought were even.”
In the second period, however, Blashill said the Red Wings stopped skating enough to create gaps for their offense, especially in bringing it out of their own zone.
“That was the disappointment for me,” Blashill said.
“There were parts of the second I thought we stopped skating. As a result, we didn’t create any offensive gaps to break out of our end.
“I thought in the first we were real close a number of times to creating odd-numbered opportunities.”
Blashill said the difference in the first periods of the two games in Detroit was the Red Wings ability to press the attack in Game 3 and the Lightning doing it in Game 4, rather than Detroit having a bad start in Game 4.
“If you come forward hard, you’re going to create lots of turnovers,” he said. “But you’re also susceptible to rushes against.
“The night before, we were that much quicker than them to create rushes against them. Last night, they were a little bit quicker probably than they were the night before, and we weren’t able to get the pucks behind them quite as often.”
Cooper hopes to rest
Lightning coach Jon Cooper said that after their run to the Stanley Cup Finals last season, the team knows closing out series as quickly as possible is a big priority.
“You get so wrapped up in the playoff series, and to have the opportunity to end it in five games just gives you rest,” Cooper said.
“Everybody gets the opportunity to regroup and reload, instead of trying to beat that team and continuing to grind.
“By the end of the Stanley Cup Finals, you’re just drained.”
Cooper said the motivation for the Red Wings will be facing elimination.
“The way they came out in Game 3 is probably very much the way they’re going to come out in Game 5,” he said.
The Wings called up defenseman Xavier Ouellet in case Alexey Marchenko is unavailable on Thursday.
Marchenko took a heavy check in Game 3, sustained a cut on his forehead that required stitches, and missed a chunk of the action. He was ill Tuesday and unable to play.
If Marchenko is unavailable, Blashill said Ouellet will be the seventh defenseman.
Blashill said Marchenko is day-to-day, and is expected to be unavailable for Game 5.