'Hard to explain': Lightning maintain mastery over Red Wings in 5-1 win; skid at 7
It only seems like the Tampa Bay Lightning defeat the Red Wings all the time.
Then again, in Tampa, yes the Lightning have been beating the Wings for a long, long time.
Wednesday was the latest, as the Stanley Cup champions soundly defeated the Wings 5-1.
"We're not happy with the result, we didn't take a step in the right direction," forward Luke Glendening said. "We have to have some fortitude and grit in this room and get back at it."
The poor stretch lately has been addressed in the Wings' room.
"We've talked about it as a group over the past six or seven games here, what we need to do," Glendening said. "Those are private conversations, obviously, but every guy in here is frustrated with the way we've been playing and sometimes the effort we've been giving.
"We each have to look personally in the mirror and see where we can be better."
It was, staggeringly, the 15th consecutive time the Lightning have defeated the Wings in Tampa. Only Philadelphia’s 16-game active home win streak against Chicago is longer in the NHL.
The last time the Wings won in Tampa? Pavel Datsyuk scored two goals Feb. 17, 2011 in a 6-2 Detroit victory.
It’s been that long.
The only positive in this start of a two-game series in Tampa for the Wings was Anthony Mantha scoring his fourth goal, third in three games,
The Wings (2-7-2), now winless in their last seven games, fell behind early and never recovered.
Tampa scored three goals in a span of 3 minutes, 20 seconds early in the first period, taking total control of the game.
Victor Hedman (third goal, 1:34) scored thanks to a bad Wings’ line change, Anthony Cirelli (second goal, 3:57) scored with the teams skating four-on-four, and Ryan McDonagh (first, 4:54) capped the blazing start with a blast from the dot after a Wings’ turnover.
Wings goaltender Thomas Greiss allowed three goals on six shots and was replaced after McDonagh’s goal — but Greiss had no defensive support in front of him.
"Hard to explain, it was a terrible start," coach Jeff Blashill said. "They came out ready to play and we didn't come out ready to play, and ultimately that's my responsibility. They were on top of us, they were skating and winning battles and we weren't."
Calvin Pickard replaced Greiss and made 16 saves.
Tampa outshot the Wings 24-17, and the Wings again struggled on the power play, not scoring on four opportunities. The Wings did a nice job on the penalty kill, stopping Tampa on its four power plays.
The Wings welcomed back forwards Robby Fabbri, Adam Erne and Sam Gagner, and defenseman Jon Merrill, from the COVID-19 protocol list.
Merill replaced Danny DeKeyser (back) in the lineup, while Michael Rasmussen (assigned to Grand Rapids), Givani Smith and Mathias Brome (assigned to taxi squad) were the forwards who were bumped out.
DeKeyser was scratched as he is battling to recover from offseason herniated disc surgery.
"DK is a great player and we need DK to be playing at 100 percent and he's not, he's been playing on one leg most of the year," Blashill said. "In the end, we made the decision to go with the other guys because we thought it gave us our best chance to win.
"That's not a knock on DK, but he's trying to recover from this and it has been a hard grind for him, he's basically playing on one leg and he's trying to get that strength back and it's not coming back as quickly as he or we want. We'll keep taking it day by day."
The changes ultimately didn't matter.
And, really, it’s just not in Tampa that the Lightning dominate the Wings.
Be it in Tampa or Detroit, the Lightning have defeated the Wings 17 of the last 18 games. The Wings won 5-4 in a shootout last season, March 8, 2020, just days before the pandemic ended the regular season.
"We all have to do a better job of doing our jobs and getting it done," Glendening said.