Penalties zap Wings as winless streak reaches six
Tampa — The Red Wings just can’t beat the Tampa Bay Lightning — or for that matter, anyone these days.
The Lightning continued their recent dominance over the Red Wings, winning 3-2 Thursday in Tampa, the Lightning’s ninth consecutive regular-season victory over the Red Wings.
Star forwards Nikita Kucherov and Steven Stamkos scored power-play goals for the Lightning (9-1-1, 19 points), who are blitzing the rest of the NHL currently, but had help from the Red Wings (4-6-1, nine points), who haven’t won in six games.
The Red Wings allowed six Tampa power plays, five through two periods, and the parade to the penalty box ultimately proved to be costly.
Kucherov’s first-period goal was the result of a too many men on the ice penalty, all of which upset coach Jeff Blashill.
“Stupid,” said Blashill of the costly penalties. “You put them on the power play like that, we had two great kills in the first period and we probably gained momentum from the kills…Then the too many on the ice, it’s inexcusable. Know who you are going in for. Those are veteran players making that mistake and it can’t happen.
“We take the slashing penalties (three) tonight. We have to eliminate those types of plays. We were self-destructive.
“You just can’t go to the box like that. It was the story of the game.”
Frans Nielsen had both Red Wings goals, a shorthanded goal in the first period and a late power-play goal that cut Tampa’s lead to 3-2, after Tampa’s Brayden Point appeared to salt the game away with his fifth goal at 17:04.
Nielsen’s goal was on a 6-on-4 man advantage, then another costly Tampa penalty gave the Red Wings another two-man advantage (after pulling goalie Jimmy Howard) at 18:37 of the third period.
But the Red Wings couldn’t capitalize again, and saw their winless streak extend to six games (0-5-1).
“We are where we are, we can’t say anything else,” captain Henrik Zetterberg said. “We’re not good enough to win games and that’s why we’ve lost six in a row.”
Stamkos scored a tie-breaking, power-play goal at 6:22 of the third, giving Tampa a 2-1 lead with Nielsen in the box for slashing.
Kucherov had the puck down the right side, had the Red Wings penalty killers drawn to him, and fed Stamkos alone on the other side.
With Howard entrenched on Kucherov’s side, Stamkos didn’t miss with most of the net open, Stamkos’ fourth goal (and league-leading 21st point) this season — and stretching his consecutive point streak to 11 games.
“Two superstars, and they have great chemistry,” said Howard, who stopped 35 shots. “We all know that. It’s no surprise. They’re great players.”
In his first game this season, forward Andreas Athanasiou didn’t make a significant impact while playing on a line with Nielsen and Darren Helm.
Because of all the penalty kills Athanasiou was limited to 11:38 of ice time on 17 shifts, was a minus-1, and was credited with three shots.