Red Wings halt 16-game losing skid to Lightning, win 5-4 in shootout

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News

Detroit — It had to end sometime, and the Red Wings’ long-standing misery against the Tampa Bay Lightning finally has.

The Wings had to go all the way to a shootout but defeated Tampa 5-4 — 2-1 in the shootout — as they ended a 16-game regular-season losing streak to the Lightning that dated to 2015.

Dylan Larkin and Robby Fabbri both scored in the shootout for the Wings (17-48-5), who let a third period lead disappear but fought their way to a satisfying victory.

Detroit Red Wings left wing Tyler Bertuzzi (59) celebrates his third-period goal against the Tampa Bay Lightning with defenseman Filip Hronek.

“We knew they had played last night in Boston and it’s hard back-to-back coming in from Boston,” forward Dylan Larkin said. “We got them two more times the rest of the year and it’ll be fun playing these guys. These games matter for them.

“We still have 12 games left and we have to play like this, play with emotion and together. We can build toward something.”

All the teams remaining on the Wings’ schedule have playoff aspirations remaining, so the Wings have a prime opportunity to be spoilers.

“It’s the only real motivation we have, to finish strong and play spoiler,” forward Anthony Mantha said. “We all know we have a tough schedule coming up, great teams, and if we could take two points away from them, it’s going to be fun for us.”

Mantha and Tyler Bertuzzi, who both had four points in the game (each had a goal and three assists), and Larkin had a goal and two assists, as the line combined for 11 points.

The line had a big month of March last season, and appears to be duplicating the success again.

“They get a lot of opportunities so they need to play like a top line and they did that,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “When we’ve had success over the last couple years, that line has been a big part of it. There’s still growth there, but they’ve done a good job.”

Mantha and Bertuzzi scored third-period goals, breaking a 2-2 tie.

But the Lightning came right back.

BOX SCORE: Red Wings 5, Lightning 4, SO

Tampa’s Brayden Point scored his second goal of the game (25th of the season), slicing the Wings’ lead to 4-3 at 5:55. Then with Tampa buzzing, Pat Maroon tied it 4-4 with his ninth goal, tapping in a loose puck at the side.

“You don’t get out of your end as much and give them extra chances — that’s not a team you want to give extra chances to,” Blashill said.

The 16-game run was the longest active win streak against another opponent in the NHL  — Boston now owns the longest active streak, also 16 consecutive victories, against Arizona.

The Wings had last defeated Tampa in the regular season on Nov. 3, 2015.

“I didn’t know until after the game,” said Mantha of the long losing streak. “Obviously we knew they had beaten us a couple of times.”

Fabbri and Larkin had earlier Wings goals in regulation.

Goaltender Jonathan Bernier made 33 saves, while Tampa's Curtis McElhinney had 24.

“Bernie played real well, made a lot of real good saves,” Blashill said. “He’s done a real good job of finding the puck through traffic. He was real good tonight, just a solid, consistent effort.”

The Wings are anxious to get into this final stretch of games and testing themselves against playoff teams.

A measure of success against these quality teams would be a gratifying measure of success in what’s been a terrible season.

“These guys (teams) are playing for their lives,” Larkin said. “We have to show we care and we’re in this and we’re sticking up for each other. It’s everything we can do at this point.

“It’s a lot more fun spoiling some seasons, stealing some points and building off that and building toward next season.”

Twitter: @tkulfan