'Self-inflicted wounds' doom Wings in opening loss

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News

Tampa — Where last season ended, this season began.

And it didn’t change. The Red Wings still can’t beat the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The Lightning rallied from a pair of two-goal deficits Thursday and defeated the Red Wings 6-4.

Tampa scored three power play goals — two came on Red Wings' too-many-men-on-the-ice penalties in the third period — to sour what had been a decent start, but hardly the ending the Red Wings wanted.

“Too many self-inflicted wounds,” Wings coach Jeff Blashill said. “When you have that many self-inflicted wounds, it’s hard to win a hockey game, especially against a real good team.

“We have to be better than that.”

Too many penalties, too many easy chances allowing odd-man rushes.

It all added up, against a Tampa team that many consider the Stanley Cup favorite this season.

BOX SCORE: Lightning 6, Red Wings 4

“The whole first period was good, after that, too many mistakes,” said forward Thomas Vanek, who had a successful Red Wings debut with two first period goals. “This is the best team in the East, in my opinion, and give them those power play opportunities, the momentum slowly shifted their way.

“You give this team power play after power play, it’s tough to play catch up.”

Along with Vanek’s two goals, fellow newcomer Frans Nielsen had a goal, and Danny DeKeyser scored a fluky late goal off the boards that somehow tucked inside Lighting goalie Ben Bishop and cut Tampa’s lead to 5-4 at 17 minutes 55 seconds.

But Valtteri Filppula’s empty net goal sealed the win for Tampa.

Jonathan Drouin (power play), Cedric Paquette, Brian Boyle, Tyler Johnson (power play), Alex Killorn (power play) and Filppula (empty net) scored for the Lightning.

Petr Mrazek stopped 30 of 35 shots, but allowed a soft one to Paquette midway in the second period, cutting the Red Wings lead to 3-2.

“I didn’t think I had any hole there,” said Mrazek of Paquette’s goal. “It went off my glove and went in.”

Johnson, just one of several Lightning players who’ve been thorns in recent seasons, scored a power play goal at 8 minutes 34 seconds of the third period, breaking a 3-3 tie.

Johnson redirected the puck past Mrazek to make it 4-3.

Then after another too-many-men call, Drouin found Killorn in the slot to make it 5-3.

Blashill was disappointed with the costly too-many-men penalties.

“We changed for the wrong guy (on the first one), ultimately the responsibility starts with me, but it’s inexcusable for me and the players, we know who we are changing for,” Blashill said. “The second one, a guy (Gustav Nyquist) was coming off, he was hit, he has to come to the bench.”

Ultimately, the Red Wings just gave away too many prime scoring chances.

“We kept generating chances, we even had chances after we were down, but we have to be better defensively than we were,” Blashill said.

Vanek was the difference early with two first period goals, the first one a power play, giving the Red Wings the 2-0 lead after 20 minutes.

“He’s a good player, he’s been around for a long time, he knows how to score,” captain Henrik Zetterberg said. “He knows where to be on the ice and you saw that tonight with two nice goals.”

ted.kulfan@detroitnews.com

Twitter @tkulfan